Spreading Love

 

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I am so excited about our summer long project for the children in our CLH (community’s little helpers) group! Our Random Act of Kindness post cards are finished and look amazing! I had no doubts that they would. My incredibly talented sister in law Jennifer Domaracki of Dahl House Design does amazing things with whatever task she is given. And a big thanks to my niece Katie for creating the art work for the cards! She is certainly taking after her mama.
I am already planning on bringing Liam’s cards on vacation with us when we go to North Carolina this summer. I can’t wait to see what the other kids come up with for their acts of kindness!

C.L.H.

Late last year I decided I wanted start a tradition in my family, especially for when Liam gets older. I wanted for all of us, together, as a family to volunteer for a cause of our choice once a month. It could be as simple as gathering things around the house for donations or food for the local pantry.  Just something. I wanted Liam to grow up in an open and giving environment and for it to, hopefully become second nature to him as he gets older.  When I started talking to other moms about my idea I quickly realized that I wasn’t alone in wanting to create service opportunities for children.  In a nutshell, that was how the CLH was born.  “Communities little Helpers” was started in the beginning of this year and so far I have rallied together 10 families with children ages 0-6 years of age. I formally started through my church however all are welcomed to join.  Since we have started we have made packaged sock cupcakes for residents at local nursing home, went to a zoo in town and handed out “sunshine” notes to strangers, and just recently held a diaper drive for a local diaper bank in our area.  The idea of the diaper drive was presented to me from another mother in the group as her daughter’s school was doing the same thing. I had never thought of donating diapers before but what a wonderful thing to give! We all know how expensive they are and how fast we can go through them.  We used the month of May as our May is for Mothers diaper drive (fathers are included too J ) and were able to collect 590 diapers to be donated!! The women at the organization were thrilled and so appreciative.  I know Liam is too young to understand now but soon he will and I am so excited to bring him up in a way that teaches him to recognize and act on situations where someone can use a little help. It is by far the most rewarding feeling.

Round 2…..Me vs. The Closet

I have been plugging away and decluttering my house little by little. After Liam goes to bed I tackle a drawer here, a shelf there and graciously pat myself on the back every time I put something in the donation/yard sale box. With this new confidence in “letting go” I moved to the closet. I may have let my new confidence get ahead of me and I came in too hot. The other day I opened the door and started taking every article of clothing out to evaluate….every last one…. The bed, the floor, the dog….everything covered in clothes. I quickly became overwhelmed and frustrated and instantly exhausted. I found myself making excuses as to why I should put this off until another day. “It was late, I had work the next day, I should really wait for the weekend..” A common reaction to the daunting task of purging your home when you get the urge to do your spring cleaning.

I quickly gave up and shoved everything hastily back in the closet and went to bed. I lost that round. Bad.
The next day I reflected on the failed attempt to release and relive in my new minimalistic way and realized, I have no deadline, I have no calendar date that I need to achieve this by. This is a lifestyle change for me, and as with any lifestyle change it takes time to properly incorporate into your life. There is no quick fix or magic pill to make us the best sculpted, most healthy maintained individual, and the same goes for decluttering and distressing our way of living. I needed take a step back, take my time and really think about what I was doing.

The next night I had two giant hampers of clothes that needed to be washed so I looked at that as an opportunity to start slow. I was always baffled about how Chad and I could have so much laundry, and most of it wasn’t even our 1year son’s! When I thought about my weekly wardrobe I honestly felt like I wore the same shirts, pants, and cardigans week after week. I never felt like I had an abundance of options so how on earth did we continuously have enormous amounts of laundry??

I knew the answer but didn’t like to admit it. My husband and I are both guilty of picking clothes up off the floor or chair in our room and throwing them in the hamper just for the “out of sight, out of mind” effect. We were lazy. Some mornings as I am running around packing everyone’s food for the day, loading the car, and trying to get myself ready I end up trying on 5 different tops and feel like I can’t find anything I want to wear. I take the top off to exchange for another while the original is mindlessly thrown on the bed before grunting and saying “this one will have to do because now I am late,” and running out the door. Please tell me I am not the only one that does this!!

Thinking about it from a minimalistic point of view however, if I had less options of clothes that I wasn’t overly thrilled with and only a few options of clothes that I truly valued and loved then my mornings will be a lot less stressful and rushed, there would be less thrown in the hamper, and in the end, less laundry for me to do.

So with that in mind I started tackling this giant load of laundry that has be overflowing for days. When they were clean and needed to be folded I went through each piece of clothing and evaluated:

1. How much do I value/love this piece of clothing
2. How practical is it? How many different ways can I wear it?
3. Will I miss it if it is gone?

I was able to pick out a couple pieces from each load of laundry I did that I felt good about getting rid of. I found I was holding on to certain pairs of pants that I liked and felt complimented by body, however I could only wear them with one pair of shoes that seemed be the perfect height and shape for the bottoms of the pants. The question I began asking myself was, “why do I own a pair of pants that I can only wear with one pair of shoes?” Vice Versa, “why do I own a pair of shoes that I only wear with this one pair of pants?” Both of these items are not very practical and end up just taking up space for things that I could wear interchangeably as I pleased. Both…GONE.

I now continue with this process of slowly eliminating various pieces of clothing as with each load of laundry until I find that my wardrobe is filled with only things that I truly value and love. This battle is a slower one, but the lessons I am learning and the examples I hope I am setting for the rest of my family are far greater than the quick fix I may never reasonably obtain from a once a year spring clean purge.

To be continued…

Decluttering My Life. My Journey towards Minimalism

When I bought my house I prided myself on how I kept things so neat and orderly. I am not a neat freak by any stretch but I loved coming home and it looking like it was staged for HGTV.  I was constantly finding little decorations or accent pieces to style the home with, trying to create this updated farmhouse look.  You might remember pictures in earlier posts.

However time goes on and I found myself acquiring more and more pieces to decorate this house with.  Eventually I started filling my closets and drawers with the excess. Nothing crazy, but as with everyone’s homes, over time things just pile up and you quickly shove them here and there when people come over and you need to do a quick clean. But there they stay.

After Liam was born the house took on a whole new look. TOYS! TINY CLOTHES! TINY SOCKS! AND TINY SHOES! ……everywhere!

When I was pregnant I told myself I will not allow my house to be taken hostage by hundreds of stuffed animals, trucks, cars, balls, and little figurines that you have no idea which toy they originally went to.

However when I look around my house now I realized I completely lost the battle. The playroom is lined around the whole perimeter of the room with endless amounts of toys. And my son is only 1….

The realization hit me like a slap on the face;  this is only going to get worse. There are more birthdays, Christmas’s, random “hey you were good today” presents that were going to come and I am not ready for it.

I knew I needed to make a change and it had to start with me.  I cannot force my husband or baby boy to take on this new lifestyle if I am not leading by example. I am reading the book “Clutter Free with Kids” by Joshua Becker – Brilliant! Read it if you get the chance!  He starts out telling a story of how he was doing his annual spring cleaning in his garage and while pulling out bin after bin of belongings he and his wife have acquired over the years, his five year old son, who was helping for all of 5 minutes, found a bat and ball and asked if he could go play in the backyard.  Three hours later he stopped cleaning and saw his son was playing with that same bat and ball the entire time his father had his head buried in boxes.  He had the realization that if he wasn’t cleaning and reorganizing all of this stuff then he could have been spending those precious three hours with his son in the back yard.

That story hit home with me.  Liam is so small right now and with my husband and I working full time jobs, plus our photography on the side, by the time we pick him up from my mother’s house and get him home, fed, bathed and play for 30 minutes or so, it is 7:30 and time for him to go to bed.  When I stop to think about it, in the grand scheme of things, I really don’t spend much time with him at all.  Weekends are precious to me for making up that time with him, but they are also filled with constant running around, food shopping and cleaning that was neglected during the week.  I started to reflect on the author’s story and understand that if I didn’t have the endless amounts of laundry, and constant “tidying up” or reorganizing then I am free to spend more of those special moments with my son.

So it was time for a change!  Earlier this week after Liam was put to bed and sound asleep, I got to work.  I went to the 2-3 junk drawers we have in  our kitchen  that have become the “catch all” for when we are not sure where to put something but have to get it out of sight.  I emptied the drawers on floor with a garbage bag and box next to me.  Trash was thrown out and things that things that someone else could use was put in the box to be donated or sold at our yard sale we will have early next month.

I was forced to pick out the  things that I truly cared about keeping.  I was putting a value on those items. I was forced to ask myself “Do I need this? Or  do I just want  this?”

It was liberating! I felt I could breathe again! Not to be dramatic, but honestly it felt amazing to take this step towards a minimalistic lifestyle that I now craved. Less stuff meant more time. And time is what we all wish we had more of.  After the kitchen I moved to the bathroom where I did the same process with the endless amounts of crap that accumulated under the sink (I am pretty sure floor cleaner from 2001 doesn’t work the same as it did 15 years ago….GONE)

Striving to live with less is so exhilarating to me.  Less laundry, less cleaning, less money spent on things we don’t actually NEED and more put towards the things that make us happy, like family camping trips and vacations….. the possibilities are endless.

Next I plan on tackling my closet…. That will be a whole other battle…..stay tuned….

Matter of Love is Here!


One of my favorite people on this plantet is launching her very own jewelry line today! I could not be more proud of this girl and I know she will go far with her talents! I love businesses with a purpose. Businesses that also want to make a difference in the lives of their customers. Kelsey is doing just that. Love and compassion has such an amazing ripple affect and if we took the time to show each other how much we cared, this world could be a much different place. I sat down with my good friend Kelsey to candidly talk about her new venture and to get a sneak peak at some of her new peices. Everything is handmade and everything is made with love. Be sure to check out Matter of Loves’s website listed below along with some our favorites from her collection.

How did the name matter of love come about?
Honestly, I don’t know. It just came to me. I want the pieces I make to be a physical representation of the love we feel and share with each other. It’s not just a piece of jewelry, it’s a reminder to think about our words and actions and to choose kindness, compassion, and love. I think the name encapsulates that sentiment.

When did you start making jewelry?
Well I started making some pieces with polymer clay a few years ago, and I loved the freedom of expression it allowed me, but I’ve always been more of a silver gal. So, last year I took a metalsmithing class to learn how to work with precious metals.

What style do you find your self gravitating to?
What style don’t I gravitate to? This has been an ever-evolving process for me and I’m finding myself pulled in so many new directions of design. Overall, I’d say I am still super attracted to geometric shapes and anything cosmic-y.

Where can we find you?
www.MatterOfLoveJewelry.com or you can find me on facebook, instagram, twitter, and pinterest.

You have traveled to several places and seen various cultures, have those experiences influenced your style at all?
I think so. Maybe not directly (except when I use my coveted beads form Ghana), but in general, I think travelling has really broadened my worldview and helped me to be more accepting and understanding of my fellow humans. It’s really humbling to be the outsider. To have to adapt to a completely different reality and rely on the kindness of others to help you. I think it’s made me actively try to find a common denominator with people, to connect in some way so I like to use different languages and cultural symbols to express love because I hope the sentiment can act as a universality to link us together as humans.

What do you hope to accomplish?
I just hope to be a positive energy in the world. I want my work to represent the person I am and the things I’m passionate about.

How do you plan to use matter of love to “pay it forward”?
I sincerely hope that my jewelry causes a ripple effect of love. I hope recipients feel their own self-worth and recognize their own potential to make a positive impact on the world. Also, profits from any of the pieces with Arabic writing are donated to the International Rescue Commitee, Inc. to help aid refugees displaced throughout the world.

 

Here is just a few of Kelsey’s amazing pieces! For more and to order your own check out her website today!

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Meet the Women of Three B’s Finderys

Even though photography is my part time job I still consider myself a small business owner and love connecting with others who share the passion to create work doing what they love and what makes them happy. Whether it be full or part time or perhaps just a weekend hobby, making that time to do things that spark a fire in your soul and excitement in your bones is one of the key factors in living a full life.  So I am always supporting those to take the chance just like I did.

Recently I sat down to speak with the women of Three B’s Finderys and talk about what inspired them to create this new venture for themselves and learn a little more about what they do.  Not only are they a ton of fun to be around but are all super talented in different ways which help make this dynamic trio unstoppable.

Meet Jen, Lori and Danielle….

What Exactly Is the Three B’s?

Jen: We are Danielle Dippel, Lori Campbell, and Jennifer Domaracki … and we are “Three B’s Finderys.” Our mission is to make the old and discarded, new again. We showcase the beauty in things that have seen their time. With some vision, elbow grease, and lots of love we will give reclaimed objects an encore.

How did the three B’s come about?

Lori: We realized that we all have different skills and together would make a good combination for this type of business.

Jen: Good things come in threes!

Danielle: … and prevent ties for decision making!

What inspired the name?

Lori: There are three of us, hence Three  –   The B is a secret and cannot be revealed  –  Finderys is a word that Danielle’s daughter uses for her treasures so it just flowed together.

Danielle: Friday night started with the Three B’s but we knew we needed more, by Sunday it was done!

How did you all meet?

Lori: We all live in the same lake community. I live across the street from Danielle and Jen is just a few blocks away, which is very convenient.

Jen: Yes —  beautiful, New Jersey. These ladies are part of our “lake family.”

Danielle: Different times but the same beautiful place.

Who came up with this vision?

Lori: Danielle discussed the idea with us one night and by the next morning we had a name and Three B’s Finderys was born.

Jen: Danielle has the gift of finding awesome treasures. Together, we all had different ideas about what to do with them.

Danielle: I could tell each of us would add a certain artistic characteristic that couldn’t be duplicated.

Where do you find your inspiration for the pieces?

Lori: So far we have been very lucky to find things that we all like for one reason or another.  We then figure out what to do to make the item into something different. Some of the items kind of tell you what they should be.

Jen: Treasures absolutely tell you what they want to be. You may have an idea of something that you want to try, but the item dictates the outcome. I once took home two window panes to work on. I had some ideas for what I wanted to do. I was almost embarrassed to tell the B’s the next day, “the windows want to be (this) instead.” Danielle got so excited, screaming “that’s what I am talking about!” It may sounds a little out there, but in some way or another, the item “tells us” what it wants to be.

Danielle: We have a certain criteria of things that we know we can make better.  We find it first, figure out later —

Where can we find you?

Lori: On Facebook and Instagram

Jen: … and Pinterest as well! A blog of our adventures is to come.

Danielle: Hopefully our own website soon.

What do you hope to accomplish?

Lori: We hope to restore beauty in things before they make their way to a landfill.  We also hope to bring happiness to the people who buy from us.  It is a great joy when someone buys something that you made and tells you how much happiness it brings them.

Danielle: We hope to accomplish one of kind pieces from unusual materials, not to be found anywhere else.

Jen: I hope that we can continue to create items that people “need to have” — those that they are happy to display in their home. We seek out tools and materials that are made in the USA. That is important to us. We love to take unwanted items and find a new and unique use for them.

What is your favorite piece yet?

Lori: I would have to say the first pallet shelf that we made.  It started out as a wine rack and when we realized we didn’t have the right amount of wood to make it we just changed course and it became a shelf.  I would say it was a defining moment in how we work together.  We laughed and learned a lot that day.

Danielle: Yeah I’m not good at picking favorites.

Jen: I agree with Lori — our very first completed project. It just needed to be done! We talked so much about how and when. We just needed to get busy. Every working day is a learning experience with these ladies. It’s not boring stuff, I’ll say that!

 

Want more of the Three B’s?? Check them out on Facebook by clicking on the link below!

https://www.facebook.com/ThreeBsFinderys/?fref=ts

 

Here are a few of their favorites:

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Ultimate Little Boy’s Playroom

This was one of my favorite projects to do in our house.  Originally this was our third bedroom which Chad and I were using as an office.  When we found out we were going to have Liam I immediately started planning his dream playroom.  I started looking at local garage sales over the summer for fun pieces and came across a BRAND NEW in the box teepee for just $20! I knew I wanted this to be the focal point of the room.  I am anxiously awaiting for the days where he crawls inside to read a book or dream up some amazing adventure of his own.  If you remember an earlier post with the old wooden desk  and chair I found a thrift store, I placed that between to big windows to provide lots of natural light for arts and crafts.

I knew I wanted a magnet station for when he got a little older as well so I used a baking sheet and purchased some heavy duty velcro at Wal-Mart and hung it on the wall next to some other fun toys.  My mother in law purchased the cube storage station at Home Depot which was perfect to hide all those little odds and ends.  I don’t want to wish time away, and I understand completely when other parents tell me to cherish every moment because the fly by…but I admit it is hard for me not get excited for when Liam is a little older, to go running into his special room yelling for his mommy to come join him.  For right now he crawls all over the room as the natural explorer that he is.

Enjoy!

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Rustic Farm Table for Ten Please!

Even before the rustic farm style decor became super trendy, I was always obsessed with having a long wooden table underneath a draping tree in my back yard.  Who wouldn’t  want to spend a warm summer evening, together with friends and family, eating good food and creating great memories, all surrounding a beautiful wooden piece of art?!  It’s even better when you don’t have to spend over $1,000 for it!  After our deck was completed we knew that the table was the next task on the list.  It would be the statement and the game changer for how our outdoor space functions.  There are an incredible amount of DIY plans available online for your own farm table however the plans we found on Ana-White.com seemed to be exactly what Chad and I were looking for.  Here is the link if you are interested:

http://ana-white.com/2012/11/plans/farmhouse-table-updated-pocket-hole-plans

Some of the wood we purchased new but the top is the real show stopper.  A friend of ours lives next door to a man who just happened to be ripping out the old floor boards in this attic, which may I mention, were over 100 years old!!  We knew that would be the perfect wood to use on the top of the table, as well as a great piece of history.  He was more than willing to give us a few boards and Chad with our friend Don went to work!  We stained and Poly’d several times so it would hold up to the outdoor elements and purchased black metal side chairs we found for a great price at Wayfair’s end of the summer sale.  Next, we strung up string lights draped through the cherry blossom tree and we are ready to party! The table is 10 ft long and fits 10 people very comfortably.  Who’s hungry?!

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Family Fun at the Zoo

I have so many exciting things planned in my mind for us as a family to do together.  Taking Liam to the zoo was definitely on the list! I know he is only 4 months old and he will have no recollection of this day later on but the moment I heard him start giggling at the deer as Chad was feeding them made the entire trip worth it! I think that Chad and I found our inner child and became more excited about seeing the animals more than watching Liam see the animals…..(even after he fell asleep half way through!) I can’t wait to take him back when he gets older! One of the cutest was seeing a house cat snuggle up to two raccoons for a little norming nap!

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80 Miles Closer To A Cure

I work full time at a local insurance company and one of the perks it offers is a free gym located on our property for all employees and their spouses.  It’s actually a very large and up to date gym and offers a lot of group exercising classes throughout the week.  Since my dad also works at the company my mom and I will usually meet up when I get out of work for one of the classes.

In early 2013 we met for our regular evening spin class we had been taking.  The class was normal, nothing we did was really that new to our bodies but the next day my mom started complaining about her arm hurting.  She said from her neck down to her finger tips was sore and felt numb…almost like when you hit your “funny bone” on the table and it sends those pins and needles up and down your forearm.

My brother is an athletic trainer for the local community college and told her it sounds like her had a pinched nerve.  She was icing and heating and treating it like a sports injury since none of us really had an idea of what it could be.  As time went on the numbness never went away and we figured it must be some kind of pinched nerve.

 Finally it was time to go to the doctor and figure out what this mysterious sensation was.  After many tests including a spinal tap, it was decided….my mother had multiple sclerosis.  If you have never heard of it, it is an autoimmune, progressive disease where the sheath around the nerve cells in your brain and spinal cord are damaged.

We were all shocked at the news, especially since what little we knew of the disease, it happens mostly in younger ages.  She is over 50.

 Her doctor discussed how “episodes” of MS  such as her tingling in her arm could be brought on by getting over heated which could have resulted from the spin class we were taking.  She was put a new medication that recently came out and showed some promises and is regularly monitored for new or lessening symptoms.  So far she has had no new episodes but continues to live with the constant tingling in her arm down to her fingertips.  I sometimes catch her shaking her hands and opening and closing her fists.  She was told the feeling may never go away.

 She continues to exercise regularly with walks and yoga, and eat lots of kale thanks to the wonderful world of the internet, and lives life as normally as she can.

 Two years ago my sister Meghan (God bless that little ball of energy) signed up for a City of Shore bike ride to help raise money and awareness for those living with MS.  She road over 75 miles on her bike and raised over $2,000 for the cause.  This is her 3rd time participating in the race and has set her goal at $3,000. She has committed to riding 80 miles in just 1 day! Liam and I hope to meet her at the finish line!

 The money she raises helps with so many things such as providing round-trip transportation to a medical appointment, purchasing walkers or shower chairs, much needed research or a scholarship fund for a high school student living with the disease.

This blog post is a tribute to both my mom for her courage that she shows on a day to day basis and to my sister who has committed herself to partake in such a physically and mentally demanding event to raise awareness and valuable resources that will help so many people around the country.

If you would like to support my sister in her race I have posted a link to her donation page below.  Go get em’ Meg! I’ll see ya at the finish line!  (My sister in on the right 🙂  )

Copy and past the link in your browser bar to see Meg’s personal site!

https://secure3.convio.net/nmss/site/Donation2?idb=2139474467&df_id=51834&FR_ID=25223&PROXY_ID=11497022&51834.donation=form1&PROXY_TYPE=20&s_subsrc=bfDskFbPfMsg&s_src=boundlessfundraising

MS city to shore 2014

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