A skirt for a tree.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Last night, inspired by this fabulous tutorial, I spent about 3 hours making ruffles for this do-it-yourself tree skirt. 
Was it worth the 18 glue sticks and two burn blisters? I'd have to say yes.
I really love this gussied up tree. She's ready for Christmas now!

Learning curve.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

I'm (almost) officially 3/4ths of the way finished with nursing school. I was thinking about it today and thought, "I have really learned so much this year."I've learned so much more than how to start an IV or how to assess lung sounds or explain the side effects of a medication.

I've learned that parents of special needs children are angels. I don't understand how they do what they do every. single. day. I'm exhausted caring for their child for just 8 hours (bathing, feeding, helping to the bathroom, etc.). Their love and sacrifice for their child just astounds me. Maybe when I'm a mom someday I'll understand it a little more.

I've learned that sometimes I need little rewards to get me through a tough week. My favorite way to spend a Friday afternoon is sitting in my car, listening to NPR, and chowing down some Chipotle. Luxurious.

I've learned that there are so many ways to procrastinate. Like cleaning your whole house. Then taking pictures cleaning the baseboards. Then posting a blog about it.

I've learned that washing your hands really works. I wash or gel my hands at least every 10 minutes in the hospital it seems, and shower as soon as I get home, and I have not gotten sick one time since being in nursing school. Eating healthy and getting sleep helps, too. But I'm serious... wash your hands! All the time!

I've learned that I can't always wear my heart on my sleeve. Some people's situations that I've encountered make me so sad, and I somehow have to remove myself from their lives just enough to care for them without wallowing with them in their pain. It's a difficult balance and I don't have it down yet. At some point I just need to pray for them, ask Jesus to comfort them, and do the best I can.

I've learned that I have some pretty amazing friends and family to stick with me through my terrible communication skills at present... they don't always get calls or texts or time, but they still love me. Thanks, guys.

I've learned that Shawn is even more patient than I thought. He'll sit for hours quizzing me on notes that make absolutely no sense to him. And he forgives me when I tell him a really graphic story right before dinner time that makes just about everything unappetizing. Crazy love... that's what he has for me. (That's what I have for him, too.)

I've learned that nursing is so far beyond a job. It's a ministry and a calling and it's one of the best decisions I ever made.

DIY: Christmas banner

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Is it time to decorate for Christmas yet? I thought so.
In our home, we are pretty minimalistic about our Christmas decorating. We do have two trees, but other than that, we only really put up a couple of nativity sets, our stockings, and some lights. I really love a softer, neutral palette when it comes to Christmas... creams, tans, and some greens. I decided to make this really simple banner to add just a little bit more to our decor. You'll need about an hour to complete the project.

What you'll need:
3/8 yard burlap fabric
3/8 yard cream cotton fabric
Heat 'n bond iron-on adhesive
1 1/2 yards pom pom trim
Sewing machine

1. Cut out four rectangles of burlap (not shown). Mine were approximately 5" x 8". Following the adhesive instructions on the package, iron a piece of iron-on adhesive to a piece of cream fabric large enough to accommodate your letters.
2. Print out the word you'd like to use. I chose "noël" and used Lucida Blackletter font (size 470).
3 & 4. Flip the letter backwards so you're seeing through the paper and use a pencil to trace the edges onto the back of the iron-on adhesive/cream fabric. You want to press hard enough that you can see where you've traced and cut on those lines. And once you cut the letters out backwards, you'll flip the fabric over and it'll be facing the right direction.

5. Peel the iron-on adhesive backing (the paper part) off of the letters onto the burlap pieces and position them on each piece where you'd like them to go. Once you've positioned them, iron them on according to package directions (usually just hold your iron on there for 5 to 10 seconds until they've adhered to the burlap).
6. Using your sewing machine, stitch around each letter in a matching color thread. This just makes it look a little more finished.
7. Now stitch the pom pom trim onto the top of the burlap to create your banner and you're finished! (You could even use a glue gun for this step if you don't have a sewing machine.)

Feel free to let me know if you have any questions!
And happy decorating. :)

Thanksgiving this year.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Our Thanksgiving could not have been better.
Lots of family met up at my grandparents' house in Ohio which is the best possible location for such a feast. We transformed their garage into a dining room (a yearly tradition), even hanging strips of fabric on a trouble light to make a chandelier at the last minute. Hope you enjoy a few little snippets of our day. We have so, so much to be thankful for.

3 more weeks.

Monday, November 21, 2011

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As you read this, I have 3 more full weeks of school and this semester is done.

Can you tell I'm excited?!

That means that I have one. more. semester. until I'm a nurse! A real live scrubs-wearing, stethoscope-using, chart-toting nurse. I kind of can't believe it. And at the same time, it's been one of the hardest things I've ever, ever done... this cramming a Bachelor's degree into 16 months. Yikes. It's not for the faint hearted (or weak stomach), but it's been worth every hour of sleep lost, every test I've crammed for, every blood pressure I've taken and shot I've given. (And for those who have heard my many crazy nursing stories, there have been other things I've seen and touched that just won't make it to blogland. Sorry.)

I still can't believe the privilege it is to walk into someone's hospital room, stand by their bed, and become part of their story in that instant, in the most vulnerable place in their life.

Trust me, it doesn't always feel like a holy moment.
Sometimes, I feel panicked, uncomfortable.
Like last week, when I stood by the bedside of a mentally challenged five year old boy who could not speak and wore a diaper. I had no idea in the world how to approach him, communicate with him, comfort him when I'm sure I scared the heck out of him wearing a mask and a gown and gloves and coming at him with a blood pressure cuff.

But it's in those moments that I have to pray, "Lord, take over. I am so worthless here." I feel like I have absolutely nothing to offer. But then I remember I have Him, and that's more than enough. I can offer the Healer, the Comforter, the Savior through my words, through the silences, through the love in my eyes.

You guys.

Friday, November 18, 2011

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You guys are the nicest people. I mean it.

When I started blogging a couple years ago, I did it for myself and my family. I really wanted to chronicle our first days and weeks of being married, and for our family (who lived in Nashville and in Germany while we were in Chicago) to be able to see what we were up to. I never did it for the comments, the networking, the self-promotion... and that hasn't changed.

But I also never realized just how amazing you guys are.

I get an email nearly every day from someone just saying they were encouraged or inspired, and I can't tell you how much that means to me. (A whoooole lot.) I can't believe that so many of you would take the time to write an email to a stranger just to make their day. Amazing. I can't tell you what a privilege it is to be able to share a project, a prayer request, a lesson learned, and to have such affirmation and just to know that you're all there. Hundreds of you. You're reading, you're listening, you're praying. I may not ever get to meet you face to face* but I love knowing that you're there. I really, really do.

That's all I wanted to say - just thank you. I count so many of you as friends because of our interaction back and forth. Keep it coming, ok? :)

*I've now met a total of four of you who just recognized me off the street from my blog, and that just blows my mind. Please always say hi, ok? I love it when you do!

Green Smoothie.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

I first saw this smoothie on Kirra's blog, and had to blog about it myself because it's just that good. It has transformed breakfast at my house. I feel like Popeye drinking my spinach every morning and enjoying every sip.

And just to keep it real around here, as I was photographing this half of my breakfast and feeling all artsy, I completely forgot about the other half that was broiling in the oven. (I have to broil gluten-free toast instead of using a toaster to prevent cross-contamination.)

But smoke alarm and all (oops!), this breakfast was totally worth it. :)

Go here for the recipe.

A picture of grace.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

This past Sunday at church, the sermon really struck me. You know those weeks that it's as if there's no one in the room but you because it's that perfect for what you're going through? It was one of those weeks.

In the middle of the sermon, there's a moment that I will never forget. I don't say that lightly. It was a picture of grace and mercy that was so beautiful it brought just about everyone to tears.

If you have an hour, watch this whole thing... but what I really hope you'll watch starts at 29:15. You'll laugh and, if I know you at all, you may cry too.

The Church from Journey Franklin on Vimeo.

I hope you see just a glimpse of the love the Father has for you. It is so much wider and higher and deeper than even this love a father has for his son. We are so unbelievably blessed to be children of God.


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person.    Mignon McLaughlin

I can't tell you the number of people who, when they found out we were engaged, made comments like "Enjoy your freedom while you can!" or laughed about a ball and chain. Even though we had many more people encouraging us about getting married, I definitely had hesitations about the kind of wife I was going to be as I was so independent, and these comments never really helped.

I remember being on our honeymoon and saying to each other, "We had no idea how great this would be!" We still feel that way. Three years later, I'm learning that a good marriage just gets sweeter, richer, deeper with time. And I haven't felt that ball and chain or any lack of freedom since we said our vows. I love the privilege of known Shawn and being known by him more than anyone else in the world.

Take two weeks ago for example. I had made a terrible grade and felt pretty defeated as a nursing student. As soon as Shawn got home from a long day at work, he held out a bouquet of roses and a dinner invitation to our favorite steakhouse. I changed and we headed out. But I felt guilty about it all, and told him at dinner, "I so don't deserve this" after making such an awful grade. He looked me straight in the eyes and said, "That's the point. My love isn't conditional like that. If I just took you out when you got a great grade or did something awesome, you'd think I base my love on what you do. And that's not the case." It was exactly what I needed, and he knew that.

Take last week for example. Shawn had a rough day at work and had to stay super late, and I know how depressing it is for him to have to leave for work and return home when it's dark outside. It's like the whole day is gone (oh wait... it is). So I packed his running clothes in my car, met him at work, and we jogged down the street and back and talked about anything and everything except his stressful day at work.

Three years ago, we never would've known that that's what we had each needed. We're continuing to learn each other and I'm loving every minute of it. I love that in 3 more years... and 30 more years... the heights and depths we've experienced together will in turn give us more depth and richness in our marriage.

So if you're about to get married, please hear me say that marriage can be so much better than you can even imagine. Don't let people tell you your freedom is gone - I feel more free than ever being completely myself with someone who loves me as unconditionally as any human being can. Enjoy every moment. It's the best gift I've experienced on this side of heaven.

Praying vs. talking.

Monday, November 14, 2011

I recently saw this on Pinterest, and thought wow... how true of me. 

The answer to this question, 9 times out of 10, is no. I am so guilty of this exact thing. I receive the littlest tidbit of bad news and I instinctively reach for my phone to call Shawn or my mom or a friend and talk through it, not even thinking to pray and ask the Lord (who knows and sees and ordains all things) to help me. It happened just today.

It goes the other way, too - I get good news and forget to thank Him for it. 

I needed this reminder today. 
I needed to remember that He is for me, He loves me, and He wants to hear from me when I struggle. 
I want so much to be a woman of prayer, and sometimes it seems like the hardest thing in the world not to pick up the phone first. It seems like a faith issue: do I really believe that He can do something about it? And if He doesn't change the circumstances, do I believe He can change my heart and my perspective?

So here's my commitment and my prayer to pray first, then talk. 

24 hours.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

24 hours with this girl was just what I needed.
The only photo I got... bad blogger, I know.
She volunteered to come from Kentucky for a sleepover to help me put a dent in the neverending work I need to do for BrighterDay. And I knew at that moment - she's the real deal kind of friend. What a gift. Seriously.

We had the best time... cutting fabric, doing a little DIY that I hope she'll share on her blog someday (please?), talking, laughing, baking cookies, and ending the night with a Shawn-Whitney concert (not me Whitney, her Whitney). They should go on the road, it was that beautiful. I just sat back and closed my eyes and took a deep breath. I am one lucky girl to have friends like these and to hear music like this in my very own living room.

The fun continued on Saturday morning with a trip to Bowling Green to see Ellie girl and do some thrifting. That town has it made in the antique/thrifting department. There are good places in Franklin, too, but nothing compared to the prices and selection just across the Kentucky state line.

I loved getting to be with you. I am so refreshed, encouraged, and thankful for you!
The other Whit :)

I felt just like a nurse today.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

And just like a patient... at the same time. 
This morning while I was in the kitchen, I bent down to grab something and stood up really fast, right into the corner of an open cabinet. I hit my head so hard that my the top of my head started bleeding and the pain immediately made me nauseous. I was seeing stars when I crawled over to the freezer and grabbed some ice to put on top of my throbbing head.

And as I sat there, I transformed from being a patient to being a nurse.

I thought to myself,
"What's your name?"
"When is your date of birth?"
"What day is it today?"
"Who is the President of the United States?"
"Ok, now count backwards from 100 by 7s."

I made sure my strength was equal in both hands and both feet, and then I grabbed my penlight and crawled into the bathroom to check my pupil dilation and reflexes in the mirror. Aaaand I determined that I would be just fine (and laughed a little at the thought of crawling to the bathroom with ice on my head).

I'm sure I was overreacting, but when you spend day in and day out seeing the worst possible scenario of things, you can't help but be cautious (i.e. a patient I saw this week had gone septic and almost died after eating a cupcake that had E. coli... crazy, right?).

And hey, it's pretty handy information to know! I now understand why people say, "Once a nurse, always a nurse."

DIY: Reusable gift tags

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Is it already time to be thinking about Christmas?!
In our house it is... I've got the Justin Bieber Christmas album blaring at the moment (Shawn's gone so it's ok, right?). And I've been trying to do some Christmas shopping here and there so that December isn't quite so overwhelming.

I LOVE do-it-yourself projects for Christmas presents, but the problem with blogging about them all is that my family and friends read this blog - so it would spoil what I'm making for them. So because they already know that they're getting something for Christmas - and because the gifts need tags - it doesn't ruin any surprises. :)

You'll need: 
- Oven-hardening clay (I found mine at Joann for about a dollar)
- Acrylic craft paint in dark brown
- A small paintbrush
- A rolling pin
- Rubber letter stamps
- A plastic straw
1. Break up the clay into smaller pieces. It's easier to roll out this way.
2. Roll each piece into a thinner layer using a rolling pin. Mine was approximately 1/4 inch thick (maybe less), but it's up to you how thick or thin to make it.
3. Use the rubber stamps to stamp in what you'd like to write on your tag.
4. Use a knife (or pizza cutter, in my case) to cut a rectangle around the name. It's easiest if you leave a little room on the left side for where the hole will go.

5. Press the straw into the left side of the tag.
6. Pull out the straw to make a perfect hole for where your string or ribbon will be attached.
7. Put all your tags on a baking sheet and bake according to package directions. Mine needed 30 minutes at 230 degrees. 
8. After 30 minutes, pull them out of the oven to let them cool. The great thing about this kind of clay is that even when it's baked, it's still somewhat pliable and won't easily break. Let the tags cool completely.

9. Using the small paintbrush and acrylic paint, paint the letters. You don't have to be perfect with this at all, just make sure you get down into the crevasses.
10. Using a slightly damp paper towel, wipe across the top of the letters while the paint is still wet in order to leave a little paint in the letters. Let dry and you're finished!

You could also use a small, round cookie cutter and make ornaments! I'll keep this one (below) on a gift, and they can use it as a Christmas ornament for next year. 

Etta Grace.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

I'm guest posting a super easy DIY today at these two cute girls' blog

Make a cozy sweater pillow from a thrifted sweater...

Because this is awesome.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


I just happened upon this site today and had to share:

The basic concept is that they sell these prints/posters that have the most beautiful typography and you get to choose a charity that will receive 40% of the profit! I'm all about this kind of art + charity blending. Aaaand I have my eye on a couple of these. Check it out!
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