Greenleaf, organizing, and simple neutrals for fall

So, how are you? Ready for the weekend?

I always find the second week back to school the hardest, as the routine is not set yet nobody has that first-week nervous energy to rocket them out of bed anymore.

To compensate, I binge-watched season one of Greenleaf and am waiting for the next season to be on Netflix Canada. Love Lynn Whitfield as Lady Mae. Her character is fabulous.

/via/

I've always loved big family dramas with terrific houses and clothes. My tastes are firmly-rooted in the 1980s, I suppose, and Greenleaf fills that bill. I also love how each character wrestles with his or her faith. The hardest part of believing in God's goodness is the fallibility of His followers and, oh, do these people set trials for one another. I cannot wait to find out what happens next.

I've been cleaning out the kitchen cupboards at home. I have no idea why I felt the need to stockpile chicken broth like that. I've put the things I need to use up at the front so I remember them the next time I think I have no food in the house.

I've also been rearranging my closet to bring forward the fall-ier pieces. I decided to add the Ruffle-neck Silk Top in Black from J. Crew during their stock-up sale. With that neckline, it could be exquisite or clownish. We will see if it's a keeper when it arrives.

/via/
In general, this fall I plan to take a nod from Dr. Paula Agard on Suits with lots of simple neutrals. 

/via/


I hope you have some fun plans for the weekend. We are planning a fairly quiet one. Those are really my favourite. I'm a homebody at heart. 

Enjoy!

XO


On tea and friendships

Yesterday one of the moms organized a little tea party and I decided to go.

Yes, every once in a while it's good to put on clothes and get out of the house and talk with actual people rather than the fictional characters in my head. (I'm at the point in writing the novel where everyone is really real to me. I'm all - you should meet Sam, he's awesome! - and then realize that Sam only exists in Scrivener.)

So I put on my J. Crew Liberty-trimmed jacket that the receptionist wears on Suits in Season 7 because clearly she wants to be like me, and I headed out for tea.

/via J. Crew/


And it was lovely.

I'm awfully hard on Stepford at times. There is a competitive materialism in leafy suburbia that drives me slightly mental (mainly because I'm not winning that game...) And this particular community is hard for me since it's a place where I've faced the very worst days of my life. Add to that, the complicated social position of being the wife of a widower who lived in this town for almost two decades and you get a place that's kind of hard to inhabit. (My advice to widows and widowers: if you've been in a place for a long time and hope to repartner, you'd better pick someone already in your social circle or be prepared to move. There are the rare and lovely birds who will be warm and embracing to you in your new life - and man, do I love these people - but they are not in the majority.)

But yesterday's tea was a reinforcement of what I like about Stepford. It's pretty, it's safe, and the food is great. And it was nice to reconnect with women I see not nearly often enough. We are all facing a similar path: wanting the best for our children, trying to figure out a career going forward, trying to stay sane. There was a whole lot of "me too" in conversation, which is always comforting; particularly when talking about the secret desire to stay inside, cry, and day-drink while the children are at school. These years can be crazy-making and it's good to know one is not alone.

It's also good to know everyone struggles, in spite of the pretty pretty on Instagram. When you go out, it holds up a mirror to your own mask. People seem to see me as someone in the jacket from Suits who spends her day hanging with the Real Housewives and traveling here, there, and everywhere. They do not know from social media that some days, I'm not able to do much more than feed the children and then crash on the sofa with a bag of chocolate almonds and binge-watch Greenleaf. It's good to connect and get real.

Everytime I go to something like this I resolve to get out more often. I won't ,of course, because 1) introversion and 2) laziness. But it's good to note that when I do overcome inertia, things tend to work out well.

Are you a goer-outer or a denner-inner? Do you have to be coaxed outside or are you running around with wild abandon? Do you like to drop the mask once in a while or keep it firmly in place thankyouverymuch?

***

Dayspring - the faith arm of Hallmark that I love and am now an affiliate of - has a promotion to help us encourage each other. If you sign up at the #EncouragementDare link before September 15, they will send you some cute free printables and ideas.


Of Mess and Moxie

I've had to completely shut off the news. It's simply too grim. Instead I focus on novels, and blogs, and scripture, and Pinterest.

/Victoria Magazine via Pinterest/

I'm loving Jen Hatmaker's Of Mess and Moxie: Wrangling Delight Out of This Wild and Glorious Life. Most of it is just this funny, slice-of-parenting-life memoir, but then she drops in these wise passages like this one, that just sum up how to cope with the crazy of today:
No matter how off the rails this world appears, God’s eye has always been on the tiny, fragile sparrow. He has never lost count of an injustice, a life, a human being. No nameless death was ever nameless. No senseless abuse was ever missed. He may have set the whole earth in motion with its mix of humanity and spiritual realms and principalities, but only One is on the throne where He has always been and will always be. If we are still holding a pile of tattered threads, it just means the story is not over yet. 
Isn't that hopeful?  It's what I've come to believe. It's all witnessed and all noted and if it seems that something is unfair -- that bad things happen to good people (hard to take) and good things happen to bad people (even harder to take) -- it is because we do not know the full story.

The challenge for me is not whether or not to believe in God. The challenge for me is to believe in His redemptive powers. To believe that there, beneath the rubble, can be hope. That no suffering is unnoticed. That no loss is for nothing. That no death is in vain. It's why I gravitate to stories of people who overcome. Who have used the struggle to build their heart muscles and go on to do tremendous things. For me, stories of personal redemption offers a glimpse of the Kingdom and what lies beyond. And that is so encouraging.

Dream a little dream

I've been dreaming a lot about the next phase of life. Right now, we are in the thick of kids: with a middle schooler, two high schoolers, one college student, and one working. Also, we have pets.

But the years race by remarkably fast and, before long, I know that we will have an empty house.

Long time readers know my struggle with living in a People Warehouse in the middle of Stepford. It's a beautiful home, complete with its own Dynasty staircase. But it's really not me. I'm a small, lots of rooms, century home kind of girl. This is my idea of heaven:

1980s Victoria Magazine photo via Pinterest



There is a reason why I have every issue of Victoria magazine that's ever been published. I gave them away once and then spent years buying them back on ebay. I'm fairly committed to that small, overstuffed, old house sort of look that right now is limited to my office.

My office cabinet of curiosities / bookshelf is slightly out of control


But I also know that families grow, not shrink, as the years move forward. The ocean house is lovely, but far too small for occasions like Thanksgiving. And, it's an airplane ride away.

So, I've begun to think about combinations and permutations that will work for us in the future. I think I'd like a small century home in a town where I can walk to everything. And by everything, I mean a really good coffee shop and a bakery.

Remember the town in One True Thing? I loved that movie. Oh, I know it was about death and cheating husbands, but the town! The town was glorious. Almost as glorious as Renee Zellweger's red brown lipstick.


/via/

When I was younger, I was all about the cities, but now I'm all about the towns. I want a college town, if possible, with book shops and a good pub.

As for the house, it must have leaded glass windows. And a wood burning fireplace. And a porch. And a small kitchen because - let's face it - I have no idea what I'm doing in there anyways.

I want small, cozy, and bookshelf-lined, with lots of original wood. I want lots of breakables, because Town Grandma can be slightly intimidating to my future grandkids. I was terrified of one of my grandmothers as a small child, and I've come to like her best.

My rather formal, slightly intimidating Urban Century Home can be offset by The Farmhouse.

/via/


The farmhouse is where kids and grandkids can come to have Adventures. Fun Grandma will live in the country. The wee ones can spill their milk and bake and run around in their outdoor shoes inside, without me having a heart attack. In blending two families, I've come to learn that I'm very particular with my space and that not everyone loves that. I want a space where people can kick back and relax and watch football without worrying about spilling chips or breaking my antique Foo Dogs, which I just might like a teensier bit more than them.

Self-awareness is half the battle. I've come to realize that chill is what I'm not unless I'm in a super relaxed place where things are meant to be casual.

Anyhow, I've been Pinteresting like mad my dreams for my Urban Century Home and The Farmhouse. Right now, it's all imaginary money, so sky's the limit my friends. This is how I planned the Nova Scotia house until the cruel reality of budgets and shipping costs set in. Then it was all, would you like some Ikea with that Ikea?

Are any of you at the stage of thinking about your next home? Are you at the dreaming stage or the reality? Is Pinterest your friend or your foe?

Have any of you been following along with the Uninvited bible study by Lysa TerKeurst? It's so very very good. This week's lesson is on being set apart -- not set aside -- by God and tells the story of Hannah. If you are looking to beef up your bible literacy and be inspired, it's well worth the watch.

XO






Faith-filled Friday (featuring Real Housewives!)

Happy Friday!

So, y'all know how much I love the Real Housewives franchise, right? So, when my pal called to tell me she was featuring Joan Kelley Walker from Real Housewives of Toronto on her show, well you know I'd be all over that.


I wore my Smythe plaid jacket because if Smythe is good enough for Kate Middleton, I suppose it's good enough for me.




I actually went to business school with one of the Smythe founders, so I knew about them before Kate did. You brag about what you can brag about, no?

Anyhow, Joan Kelley Walker is even more beautiful than she looked on the show. She's tall and slim and very modelly. Everyone on TV is always a lot skinnier in real life than on the screen. This is always a little depressing.

She's also very sweet. Her upcoming show on See Hear Love will give her the opportunity to discuss her charitable work with World Vision, among other things. Joan has a real heart for philanthropy that was not really highlighted on the Real Housewives of Toronto show. 

Now y'all know how much I love my Housewives, but I've noticed that whenever Christianity is featured on the RH franchise, it's the judgemental side that comes across.

The whole thing got me thinking about what it means to be a Christian. One of my favourite ways of expressing it comes from the movie, Gifted, when Chris Evan's character, Frank Adler, is talking with his young niece, Mary:

Mary Adler: Is there a God? 
Frank Adler: I don't know. 
Mary Adler: Just tell me. 
Frank Adler: I would if I could. But I don't know. Neither does anybody else. 
Mary Adler: Roberta knows. 
Frank Adler: No. Roberta has faith. And that's a great thing to have. But faith's about what you think, feel; not what you know. 
Mary Adler: What about Jesus? 
Frank Adler: Love that guy. Do what he says. 
Love that guy. Do what he says. Isn't that the whole thing? We get all wrapped up in this, that, and the other, but Christians are supposed to do what Jesus did. Love people. Feed people. Listen to people. Care for people. And once you've done all that - and everyone on the planet is fed, and cared for, and listened to, and loved - you can worry about the other stuff, I guess.

I'm glad Joan had an opportunity to talk about living out her faith through loving and giving. She's a Saskatchewan girl - like my mom and many of my aunts - so I assume that's where she gets her wisdom.

Also, can I just say that she had on the best pair of Gucci suede ankle boots? They were the ones with the Marmont logo. Let's face it, that's the real reason I watch the Housewives: for the clothes.

I also had the opportunity to hear Sue Wigston, COO of Eagle's Flight, interviewed. She is just fabulous and had so much to say about leadership, faith, and millennials. It's a treat to be able to meet such awesome people and blog about their stories.



I hope you have a wonderful weekend.

XO










Fall Fashion

Sooo, anyone doing any fall shopping lately now that the weather is cooling?

I always like the same basic stuff. Sweaters, vests, jeans, boots. Rinse and repeat.

J. Crew always does its best work in the fall, no?

I'm kind of loving this jacket:


And the Blythe Shirt:



The beret is having a moment, which I kind of love. 


I'd be all over the leopard coat, if I didn't have one already. 


See? The leopard coat I wore to my friend's wedding last fall. It's from Forever 21. Sometimes they have cute things. 




Normally, Le Chameau wellies and Bean Boots are the official footwear of fall.



But my inner Marie Antoinette is loving these Club Monaco mules


Are you planning any fall purchases?

Fall reading

Yesterday was the first day of school. Everyone was smiling at the end of the day, including me. Hashtag: blessed.

My own first day back outfit was a J. Crew leopard cardigan, a blue and white button down shirt, jeans, and pearls. I'm not going back to school, but it's always a good idea to look a little fancy, no?




I don't know about you, but once school is back in, I'm just done with summer. I want it to get really cold, so I can den in. I want to put on a sweater and get a plaid blanket and curl up in front of the fire reading book after book.


Let's pretend it's October now.

I've been reading through Karen Kingsbury's Baxter family series. I wish the Baxters lived next door so I could go hang out in their kitchen. Kingsbury has written about 7000 books so I'll be reading these for a while.

Loving Jen Hatmaker's newest: Of Mess and Moxie: Wrangling Delight Out of This Wild and Glorious Life. But then again, Hatmaker is simply the best. There is so much wisdom in these pages, like:
The longer we keep our heartaches tucked away in the dark, the more menacing they become. Pulling them into the light among trusted people who love you is, I swear, 50 percent of the recovery process.
 and
Life can be hard because life can be hard. We’re not doing it wrong.
and
Rock bottom teaches us that God is who He says He is and He can do what He says He can do. We buy what we’ve been selling because it is real. God’s healing work means actual lives are restored, actual hearts are mended, actual strength is renewed. 
Yes, yes, and yes. Amen to all of it.

I've started Chrystal Evans Hurst's She's Still There: Rescuing the Girl in You. It looks promising.

If you are looking for beautiful writing, I loved loved loved Alice Anderson's Some Bright Morning, I'll Fly Away: A Memoir. Anderson is an accomplished poet who, in her memoir, tells the story of her abusive marriage in the days following hurricane Katrina. The subject matter is hard and I'm only able to read it now that memories of my own brush with abuse are more distant. I'm so very thankful I did not marry or have children with the man. Anderson's experience of the family court system and having to co-parent with an abuser is impossibly hard and her courage is astonishing. This is not a "faith" story in the traditional sense at all, but it's a beautiful story of redemption.

I have a huge stack of books that are waiting for me. The print ones may go unread since my eyesight is still giving me trouble. But I have plenty of ebooks lined up with the BIG HUGE FONT setting. All I need is a cup of tea and some free time.

What are you planning to read this fall?

Greenleaf, organizing, and simple neutrals for fall

So, how are you? Ready for the weekend? I always find the second week back to school the hardest, as the routine is not set yet nobody has...