The Emerald Girl

The Emerald Girl

casual. classic. curious.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

About savoring time with my kids

This is the last school year with my little girl at home. Next year, she'll be off to kindergarten and our life will look completely different. Next year will bring a lot of big changes. Most of which, I feel like I'm waiting for. I see them on the horizon; I want to prepare for them as much as possible; Because I know they're coming, I kind of just want to get there. So how do I thrive in this period that feels like just a lot of waiting? Waiting for things to change, waiting for things to begin.

It's so funny how much I want to just get there, to the change, while simultaneously wanting to savor this last year with my baby girl at home. Just me and her. It's even funnier how much I've wished to be through these hard years with babies, just surviving, but now that they're almost all gone I'm missing them and have begun to deeply understand how fleeting childhood is.

All I want to do is gobble up these years where the kids love all the cute, fun little kid things. The sweet holiday decorations, the days of making simple art, the darling clothes, the days when I can still pick out what they wear, the constant demand for cuddles at the end of the day, the hundreds of times they get out of bed to tell me something or give me a hug, just their sweet, sweet nature.

It seems like I could forego the good changes the future holds just to stay in these little years forever. Such is everything in my life. I get so focused on the end result that I forget to savor the moments in between. A trait I've loathed about myself for at least the past decade. Though I've been learning to savor small things: like family vacations to Palm Springs and warm summer days. Perhaps through learning to savor the small things, I can savor this seemingly long school year knowing I'll never have another year like this because we can't turn back time.

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Fall Chex Mix

Fall Chex Mix Recipe
Chocolate Chex Cereal
Reese's Puffs
Pretzel Sticks
Brach's Autumn Mix
Nestle Chocolate Chips
Nestle Butterscotch Chips
Yogurt Covered Pretzels

Pour all ingredients into bowl, mix and voila! You can really add or subtract whatever ingredients you desire but I suggest a good mix of sweet, salty and chocolate. I was quite surprised at how addictive this mix was. Snackers beware of this highly addictive chex mix. We enjoyed this over the weekend and then I sent the rest with Matt to share with his work. After all, my mom always said, "share the fat"!

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Am I doing my best?

Thomas Family Farm Sunflower Festival
Denim on denim in the sunflower field

Thomas Family Farm Sunflower Festival
Denim style in sunflower field | The Emerald Girl
Thomas Family Farm - Sunflower Field - The Emerald Girl Blog
Is my best really the best? Can I honestly consider "my best" the best if I'm not always continuing to learn how to do better?

Maya Angelou once said, "Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better". I'd like to take that one step further to say that you should always be seeking to know better. We humans don't come equipped with all the knowledge we need - unfortunately. ;)

When a friend in my mom group said she was reading a book about whether or not people in general are doing the best they possibly can do, right off the bat, I thought yes. At least, I thought I was. Not necessarily everyone else. I'm a pusher, a dreamer, a goal maker, someone with aspirations. Of course, I'm trying my absolute best most of the time. However, as this idea has simmered in my mind over the last year, I've realized another key to doing one's best is prioritizing the things that really require your absolute best because we really cannot do it all well. Being intentional takes much energy so I am learning that I need to prioritize what I really, really want to spend my energy on if I want to do my best.

If I could pick one priority it would be my family. Included with family is raising kids among other things but for the sake of keeping this post short, I'll stick to one example. Earlier this year Matt and I attended a Biblical Parenting Principles and Practical Help class and it was then that I realized that if I wanted to raise God loving humans who are well prepared in all situations it was going to require so much more than I was doing. While I often sit and simmer in frustration wondering what my purpose in life is, I can be sure raising my kids is part of it and stepping up to do that well is my calling (at least one of my callings).

What does parenting well look like? Wouldn't we all like to know?!
While I cannot answer this question, I can share some things I know I need to focus on to do my best and to keep doing better.

  1. Take care of my body through proper nutrition, exercise and sleep. These are not my strong points and yet weigh heavily on my ability to do anything at my best, especially parenting.
  2. Learn more, be more informed. For example, I've recently started reading the book, "Tending the Heart of Virtue - How Classic Stories Awaken a Child's Moral Imagination. This is opening my eyes to the lofty task of parents "to be mentors to our children in the moral life". (Guroian 4) Along with that it has made me realize that I need to keep pursuing how to cultivate my kids hearts at home because I don't know all the many things that could enrich this experience for us all.
  3. Spend quality time with my kids. This seems rather obvious but for any parents reading this, then you know, there's a hundred other things that I could be doing that seem more important than sitting down and playing with my kids - a hundred - but if sitting on the couch and reading one book makes my kids feel loved and feel valuable as well as teach them to be generous with their time in relationships, then the laundry can wait. (Granted, I don't think the laundry should wait all week, there is value in teaching kids to be good stewards of our home, but balance).
A person can really only do one thing well at a time so while I'd also love to dive deeper into creating a non-toxic home environment, write more and grow my blog, take photos for a magazine shoot, etc., I'm working on family first and that's the best I can do (for now).

***All photos taken at the Thomas Family Farm 1st Annual Sunflower Festival. Denim inspired outfit: top (j.crew), jeans (madewell), boots (hunter), bracelet (kiel james Patrick).

Thursday, September 19, 2019

On blogging more

They say that to have a successful blog, one needs to be quite targeted and niched down. I can see how that's true. After all, I don't stick around other people's accounts unless it's clear what I'm getting from that person. I can't be targeted. My brain is not targeted and my blog writing has always been and will always be an outpouring of the hundreds of things floating around in my head all day. I can't promise that you'll always get life tips or humorous personal anecdotes or pretty pictures. According to experts, the only people who will be interested in my type of blog, are people who already know and like me. My own mother doesn't read what I write though so I don't know what that says.

Being as it's my birthday month, I was going to write about what great gifts to the world all of us virgos are, thinking we're a rare treat but, I just looked it up, the reality is that it seems virgo may be one of the most common zodiac types. If that's true, I have many questions on why the world is operating in tip-top condition. We are ordered, detailed, methodical, logical, easy going... the list of wonderful attributes goes on. It all comes down to, well, just about every other thing that makes us who we are. I guess what's logical to me may not be what is most logical to someone else however, as  a true virgo, I would question whether or not that person really is logical. :oP

All of this to say, I plan on writing more. Developing my writing voice and technique more. I want to share a lot more organizational tips and tricks. I've always related to Marie Kondo. I was that weird child who would stay up late cleaning and organizing my things because it gave and continues to give me immense satisfaction to create structure and order. Maybe that's just a shy, introverted, virgo thing? I'll also continue to create pretty photos, most of which involve flowers. Lastly, I'll try to break through the fear of sharing. It would be nice, if something I write about makes any of you readers think about something, leave a comment, start a conversation.

Monday, September 9, 2019

About having hard conversations

You know all those things that feel confrontational so you just never address them? Ya, those things. If being an adult means you can handle what feels like hard convos, then I seriously suck. (For another post but this is why I don't feel like an adult, I thought adults had stuff figured out and under control - hint: just an illusion). However, I recently did have a hard conversation and I'll fill you in on the secret to what finally gave me the courage to speak up.

A person, who shall remain anonymous, was unknowingly driving me absolutely insane. I want to emphasize the word "unknowingly". The better side of me knew that this person did not know how they were effecting me although after days that turned into weeks of them continuing in the unbearable behavior, I had fabricated an entire story in my head about how and why this person was trying to ruin my life. I couldn't take it. I wanted to run away.

I either had to run away and never return or I had to face it head on. Instead of letting the false story of how this person wanted to drive me crazy so that I would leave continue on any more, I told myself a new story. A story that sounded more rationale and level headed. The story of me leaving. If I left, that person who was unknowingly driving me insane would ask me one question. That question was: why didn't you just tell me so I could stop? That's when I knew, I had to confront this person. Confront is really too harsh of a word. I mean people annoy other people all the time or do things without thinking all the time and with no ill intentions and we, the human race, should be able to talk to each other about things. Is there a lesser word for confront?

So I did. I was nervous. My eyes looked down. But I did it! The person I was speaking with was so receptive to what I was saying and had no clue and was glad that I told them.

The lesson is to give people the benefit of the doubt. First imagine they are just as reasonable as you and how you would respond if you were them. That can give you the courage you need to proceed because we shouldn't be running away from our problems. We're supposed to learn how to deal with one another with love and grace. Now I have a tiny bit more confidence in myself and can lean back on this experience in the future when I need to.

***Curious minds: this is not about any of my friends or family members***

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Of blooms and bursts of color

Summer always ends in a burst of deep colors and an explosion of blooms as the final encore. The bright deep colors blend perfectly with rich autumn hues as the leaves turn into brilliant shades of red, orange and yellow. The beginning of fall is my favorite season of all but it's only well received when the slow, warm days of summer become one too many and the anticipation of cozy nights, pumpkins everywhere and sweater weather hits the horizon.

This styled shoot is especially rewarding for me because I know it wasn't easy to do. I haven't been working much as make many compromises in order to be home more with my kids. One of these compromises means I haven't bought any new clothing type article for myself since the beginning of February. In this ultra-consumerism culture we live in, that is a hard feat. The only thing I bought for this project was the blooms and this may have been the only bunch I bought for myself all summer (another compromise). I had envisioned these flowers against an all white ensemble so that the colors would really pop. Then to set the bistro table, I didn't know what to do. I felt creatively stumped and was beginning to feel upset that I would just never be the photographer that I wanted to be because I don't have the resources to have perfect props and the perfect eye for styling. It may not seem like much but if you've ever attempted any sort of styling, you know it can be challenging to pull in the right details that tell the right story. I remembered something I noticed about one of my favorite styling duos (Kiel James Patrick and his wife Sarah Vickers), more is more! More details, give more to the story and create more feelings. My story says: hello, perfect summer evening, pull up a chair, grab a cold fruity drink and read a book amidst these beautiful blooms. It screams leisure and that is exactly what summer should scream. And this is exactly how my summer felt (more about that in another post).

Being forced to use only what you have really will push you creatively. At least it did for me with this styled shoot and, in my opinion, this has been my best styled set yet!

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Favorite Things: Taylor Swift

There are not many bands or musical artists that I really know well. I'd fail any Jeopardy category that needed names of songs or artists even though I love listening to music. However, there is a small handful of artists who I know and have followed their careers through the years. Taylor Swift is one of those people. In the beginning, she was a girl that I hated to love but I've since had a complete 180. Taylor's career is inspiring and listening to her music motivates me to keep going creatively. She's a boss, headstrong and talented. I've compiled a list of my favorite songs into one easy to listen to Spotify playlist for your listening enjoyment. What're your fav Taylor songs? Sound off in the comments below!

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Stop calling women crazy

Are women really crazy
This post is inspired by a single comment in this podcast and the most annoying song on the planet.

There's a stereotype, the crazy girlfriend, that crazy girl, etc. It's one of my biggest annoyances. I don't know when this started or why anyone ever thought it was warranted to call someone crazy. The idea is clearly rooted in a lack of empathy or compassion. It is destructive, divisive, demeaning and devaluing. That last, devalue, is a big one. I think calling a woman/wife/girlfriend/friend/co-worker/whatever crazy is meant to devalue that person and therefore negate anything they say or do. Cause if you can say that person is crazy, then nothing that person says will carry much value.

The dictionary defines crazy as mentally deranged, especially as manifested in a wild or aggressive way. This is an extreme word. A crazy person is that person you see walking down the street yelling profanities while hitting and kicking. A crazy person is not a female (or male but since this is about the stereotype will stick with female) who is expressing a thought, opinion or feeling that another person does not agree with or understand.

Words become thoughts and thoughts become words. They shape the entire essence of who you think someone is. So if you tell your significant other (or whoever) that they are crazy or tell your friends that chick is cuckoo just because you didn't like or understand what they were saying, it discredits them, like a scarlet letter, unfairly. Calling someone crazy is the easy way out. Putting yourself in someone else's shoes, trying to understand what motivates and moves them, that's the hard stuff. It's hard to understand people who think differently than our own mind does. Hopefully the point of relationships isn't to "win" but rather to show love and to better ourselves (PS this usually means doing the thing that's hard).

Monday, March 25, 2019

How I keep my wardrobe fresh

Spring Style
Spring Style
Spring Style
Switch over closet
Switch over closet
A few years ago, I started switching over my closet for clothes that were out of season until the next year. Living in the Pacific Northwest this is mostly not necessary since I can wear pretty much all of my clothes all year long but I would tire of looking at all of the same items every day. This is not a new concept at all

It all started with the end of winter one year. I was so sick and tired of the dark colors and festive patterns that I wanted to give everything away and start afresh. This seemed wasteful so I decided instead to pack them away and I could decide how I felt about them when the cold season returned. I wanted my closet to reflect my mood and my mood is often affected by the changing seasons. That Spring and Summer I so enjoyed the light and airy feeling in my closet! By the time Fall returned, I switched over my closet again and took out the packed away cold weather clothing and was excited to have shades of maroon, long sleeves and clothing I hadn't seen in 6 months - it all felt new again! This pattern has continued every 6 months now for a couple of years and each time I am surprised and delighted by my old favorite clothing items return to my closet. This alone has greatly reduced the amount of time and money I spend buying new clothes each season which has allowed me to purchase a few choice, quality items at higher price points since I am not needing to buy a great quantity.

Here are a few tips for how I decided which items to switch over in my wardrobe for Spring:
1) Check for color (darker colors are not as enticing to wear in the warm, brighter days)
2) Check for pattern (winter plaids don't need to see daylight savings time)
3) Check for weight (this is a no brainer, see ya next year heavy sweaters)

And there you have it! Switch over you closet to keep it feeling fresh and new all year round.

Do you have any tips for keeping your wardrobe fresh?

Shirt: J.Crew (old but I've seen this come back several years in a row so it could return) | Pants: Madewell (tall length) | Sunglasses: Anthropologie (old) | Camera: Instax Mini 9

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Sunday, March 17, 2019

How to really relax in Palm Springs

Being a snowbird in palm springs
If you're like me and you spend far too much time perusing photos on Instagram then you've no doubt seen a slew of trendy photos from Palm Springs. Bold, bright and colorful desert. From the Moorten Botanical Garden to mid-century architecture to uber trendy hotels, you've likely thought that looks like your next vacation destination. I want to tune you in to a little secret: that's just Palm Springs, the real joy of the desert is relaxing country club style under the sun in the shade of a palm tree next to a beautifully landscaped golf course.

The first time I visited Palm Desert it was 1998 and my family visited every year after that. What Florida is to New Englanders, the Southern California desert is to Pacific North Westerners. Sure it's fun to do and see some trendy things in Palm Springs but it's more fun to simply get away from it all. The desert is surrounded by mountains for hiking and exploring - just make sure to bring plenty of water. I remember being totally dehydrated hiking in direct sunlight one year and had to go back early. Of course there's cute shopping and tasty restaurants but, really, what destination doesn't boast that? Between lounging poolside, snapping photos of my favorite scenery and eating at the Tommy Bahama restaurant (#basic), I could easily spend my entire trip daydreaming about never ever leaving.

February's weather has been rather a miss the last couple of years and so it is a fickle friend. The bleak mid-winter is often the best time to leave the PNW but it can be a little disappointing to visit with only 60 degree weather. If you're not tied down to your child's school break schedule, March would be a perfect. Once you get into April, temperatures are easily in the 90-100 range. Personally, I'm good with that but it can be a little overwhelming when you're not used to it.

Below are some pics from my family vacation circa 1999 hiking in Coachella Valley and one of a view from the patio at my parents old home in Palm Desert.
palm desert sunset
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