This very special dress was just washed and put away for maybe the very last time. My mom made it back in 2012 for easter, and it was just a tad loose, and almost full length. My sweet girl wore it for the fourth easter in a row this year, and it was a bit tighter and much shorter (think Shirley Temple). I hope that one day her little girl will love it as much as i have, and will think of her great-ami when she wears it. #familyheirloom #handmadewithlove

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This one melts me. Nothing better than a #happybaby


So we braved a weekend at the farm with our sweet friends and nine(!) little ones. There were melt-downs and whining and boo-boos and sticky fingers and no running water, which made for a very interesting time with the sticky fingers and such. (Burst pipe, just our luck!) But there were good, thoughtful, sometimes uninterrupted conversations. And a few moment's that were just beyond precious, like this one. These two are such sweet friends and soaked up every second of our weekend away. We are exhausted and grimy and probably stinker than we realize, but we are so thankful for good, godly friends and the strongest of bonds we have in Christ.

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Happy (late) siblings day! I always pretended to dislike being the middle kid, but truthfully it wasn't all that bad. Especially with such awesome siblings on either side. Love you two! #siblingsday

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One more. Hampton just adores his daddy. When Keith's around, i might as well be invisible. And I'm OK with that. I happen to think that Keith is pretty wonderful, too! #daddysboy

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Happy Easter! #latergram

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How Saturday mornings should be. #sothankfulforthem

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He is a joy. #happybaby

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Cousins date today to see the new Cinderella with three princesses and a knight in shining armor. These four are so fun!

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All day today and tomorrow, use coupon code 25FOR2 to save 25% off everything in the shop - including growth charts and canvas wall hangings!  (And remember, 50% of your purchase goes straight to adoptions and orphan care ministries.)
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What's Happening

1. We'll go ahead and get it out of the way: we're adopting!  We're in the very, very beginning of the process, and to be honest, a month ago I would not have suspected that we would be here now.  But God has put it on our hearts, and we are excited to see what He'll do!  More specifics to come (after we figure them out!)

2. - 4. It's finally chilly here, and we've been enjoying the cooler weather with bonfires, footed jammies, and amazingly bright Japanese Maple leaves.

5. & 6. We have one walking (how did that happen!?!) and one cartwheeling.

7. We had a knight, a princess, and a (reluctant) dragon for Halloween.  (This is a good article on redeeming the holiday.

8. - 11.  Normal everyday stuff.  Aren't they the cutest?  :)

12.  My girl turned 4.  And got her ears pierced!  Somehow she seems SO much older.  4 is going to be a good year, I can tell!
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What's Happening

1. We've been spending some lazy days at the park while the weather is still nice (in the 70s here!).  I snapped this photo of the kids playing and it SO exemplifies their personalities: thoughtful caution and GO-GO-GO!

2.  Hammie's favorite person ever is his big sister, and for good reason.  She would do just about anything to make him happy.  God truly knew how we needed to see her compassionate, selfless side and gave us Hampton at just the right time.  P.S. The kids now call him Hammie, Hampy, Humpump, Geeko (not sure why), Kinko (again, not sure), Ham-Ham, Hammie Cakes, and a few more I can't think of right this minute.  He will be so confused about his name, but so sure that he is loved!

3.  I added several new growth charts to the shop this week.  Use code ITSFALLYALL for 15% off now through Thanksgiving.

4.  Obligatory pumpkin patch photo.  And aren't my kids beautiful?  :)

5.&6.  Leafy shadows and evening light and our new paint colors.  The black and white is classic, and the pretty bluey color on the door gives it a bit of personality.  Thankful I like how it turned out!  (BM China White on the siding, SW Tricorn Black on the shutters, SW 7005 Pure White on the trim, and BM Wythe Blue on the door.  Thanks largely to Rene!)  

7.  The kids have started working to raise money for Compassion.  They've been so excited to help around the house so we can add money to their jar.  Gus wants to give toward shoes and clothes, and Lula wants to give toward medical care and to support doctors. It makes me so grateful to see their caring and generous hearts.

8.  What happens when you let a 3 and 4 year-old entertain the baby for a minute.

9.  I started cleaning out the office so we can relocate all the shop stuff upstairs.  I found my old magazine clippings from back before there was pinterest.  And 99% of them went straight into the recycle bin.  (We'll hopefully be doing a big zulily event sometime before Christmas with extra big discounts to clear out inventory to make the move a little easier.  I'll let you know!)  
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So it's come to this.  For the time being, posting an occasional instagram photo collage might be about all I have the time/energy/will power to do.  I plan to post an update (hopefully) once a week and we'll see how it goes.  If you follow on instagram, there will likely be very little new for you, but I may throw in some extra details.  So here goes:
1. Our pretty new siding and front door.  (Benjamin Moore China White and Wythe Blue respectively.)
2.  Fun un-birthday with three cousins who will all be one this year.  Left to right: Penny (Oct.), Eliza (Sept.), and Hampton (Dec.).  (See why it would have been so cool if he had been born in November like he was supposed to be?  Besides the horrible discomfort of the 41st week of pregnancy, I mean. :)
3.  LegoLand with the "big" kids to celebrate their 4th.  We all had a blast.
4.  Weekend road trip to Blue Ridge, and this sweet guy was a wonderful traveler. Smiles the whole way.
5.  New (unpainted) gray siding on the house had me questioning my color choice.  The light gray was pretty, but I ended up sticking to the white.  'Cause who wants to spend hours staring at paint chips again?    
6.  Playing with oil paints and pretty flowers.  Not sure where this hobby will take me, but I'm enjoying it!
7.  Bedtime snuggles and Bible time with daddy.  Nothing better than freshly washed hair and footie jammies :)
8.  Apple cookies.  Our new snack obsession.  Soooo good.
9.  Playing with watercolors and a bit of hand lettering.
10.  Sleeping in the car.  She still looks so little when this happens.
11.  Snuggles with my littlest.  I've learned that it goes so, so fast.  And I'm trying desperately to slow it down a bit.
12.  The big kids have been learning a new bible verse each week and sometimes let me snap a video of them reciting it.
13 & 14.  Gus got his first (non-Duplo) Legos for his birthday and we've spent hours since playing with them.  His sister was so excited to give him a hotwheels car she picked out, and topped it off with a kiss.
15.  The barn door is finished and looking (and sliding!) good.  We used this tutorial for the hardware.  

We'll see how this whole thing works out.  It's hard to tell if I'm just in a rut or done with blogging for good.  Hopefully posting quick updates will tide me over while I figure it out.  Thanks for bearing with me!
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After a few years of thinking about it, and after many requests (see, we do listen!), we are now able to offer printable files in our Etsy store!  This is a great option for those of you who need an art print fast, or who have access to a good printer, or who are looking for a less expensive option.
And as always, half of all profits go straight to our favorite charities!    Let us know what you think, and as always, new suggestions are welcome!
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What's Happening

Posts have been a bit scarce around here lately.  Not because there's nothing to write about, but because life is so full right now.  We've been busy with kids and business and church and family and real life-y stuff.  And that's how it should be.  I'm not ready to give up the blog completely, but I have been finding it much easier lately to share photos and bits of life on instagram, so for now at least that may be the best way to keep up with us.  If you're interested in doing that.  (Full disclosure - 90% of my instagram feed is cute kid photos with a few art and house projects thrown in.  Fair warning.)

Anyway, here's what's been happening around here lately:

*Sweet Hammie just had his 9 month check up and measured at the 97th percentile for height.  He's almost got a third tooth, he's pulling up and walking around (while holding on), and saying "mama", "daddy", and "hey".  He's as pudgy and fluffy as ever, and we're all still 100% enamored with him.

*The barn door.  Keith and I finally got around to (almost) finishing the trim work in the kitchen.  To add a threshold between the new wood floors in the kitchen and the old tile in the laundry, we had to remove the door.  I was going to plane it a bit so it would still shut with the threshold in place, but then I realized how much more open our little laundry room was without a door swinging into it.  So this is happening:
We've got the door built, now we just have to paint it and figure out the hardware and hanging.  I know the whole barn door thing has been done, but I'm still so excited to have my own!

*Keith and I have had a rough year with this wild and crazy, beautiful girl.
It's its own post, but long story short, we figured out that she has Sensory Processing Disorder.  And I have never been so thankful to have a label to stick on someone in my life.  So much of what we have been struggling with - odd behavior and horrible, horrible melt-downs - is tied to SPD.  We did a few play therapy sessions and have figured out some ways to integrate sensory play at home with her now.  She is a completely different, absolutely delightful person.  Praise God for some answers and some simple solutions to help her get what her body is needing!

*Our wallets are screaming over here.  We moved in knowing we would have to replace the siding soon, but we didn't realize quite how much that would cost.  Ouch.  The up side is that we get to change the exterior paint colors.  That's not very much comfort for the steep price tag, but it's something.
Over on the left is the house before we moved in.  The right is the color scheme I'm considering.  'Scuse the bad photoshopping.  I'm open to suggestions, though.

That's what's happening.  See y'all around instagram.
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Dining Room Progress & Stencils?

Our dining room is very much a work in progress right now.  It started like this:
And I painted over the hand-painted design.  Gulp.  It really did kill me.  I could tell a lot of time and money went into it.  But I just couldn't do the orange.  Keith keeps telling me that someday there will be paint that allows you to adjust the color after it's on the walls.  If I had had that option, I would have simply adjusted those rusty oranges to something lighter and softer, and been so happy with the hand-painted design.  But no dice.  Why is color-changing paint not a thing yet?!?

So here we are now:
I like a lot about this room: my beaded light fixture, the plantation blinds and the casual stripe curtains.  I like the table (yard sale find!), and the jute rug.
 But otherwise, it's just kind of a blank slate.  I'm still not exactly sure where I want to go from here.
 Oh, and this piece.  It's slated to be a double vanity at the farm once my parents remodel, but for now I've graciously offered to store it in our dining room :)

I'm thinking I need to recover the chairs, add some colorful accessories....and I would love to do something to the walls to add a little pattern.  (I would LOVE to recreate the pattern I painted in our last dining room, but no way do I have time for that now!).  I'd love to wallpaper, but it's not in the budget.  Which technically doesn't exist at all.  So I'm thinking a stencil would be the (way less expensive) way to go.  Here are some of my favorite wallpaper and their stencil lookalikes.  (Click on the photos for the links.)

 I love this Schumacher wallpaper, but had a little harder time finding a matching stencil. 
 Stencil option 1. 
Or this one. 
Or this one.

Kelly Wearstler trellis wallpaper.


Pretty paisley wallpaper.

This wallpaper is so pretty.  It's a bit of a stretch, but I wondered if a similar look could be achieved with this stencil: 

Any other great stencil resources out there that I missed?  I'd love to see all the options!  :)
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Soli Deo Gloria

Some days brush strokes are sloppy, colors don't want to cooperate, and I just can't quite nail down what is wrong with a composition.  Some days I can think of nothing at all to paint or draw or sew, and some days (far too many) I find myself enamored with someone else's work, and can't keep myself from holding my own up next to it, only to find mine wanting.  Some days there is more frustration and self-pity and apathy in the design process than joy.

On those days, I find myself asking why I paint or draw or photograph or create.  And there are many reasons, some of them worthy reasons, even.  For pleasure, to bring others joy, to donate time or gifts or money to a good cause, to share my interests with my children...  But there is just one right  reason.  I create because I was designed to do so.  My God is a creator, and I was made to reflect His character and His glory.  I was made to glorify Him.  Everything I have -- time, talent, even the desire to create -- comes from Him and should be used to give Him glory.  
But so often my sinful, twisted heart seeks my glory above all else.  So often I delight in what I've made, and take pride in the skill that was required to create it.  I delight in knowing I have drawn or arranged or formed something, not because it shows how beautiful and creative my God is, but because I  made it.  So often I lose sight of how minuscule and clumsy and artless my work is.  And so often I fail to marvel at God's majestic, intricate, living, ex nihilo creation and to praise Him for how creative and awe-inspiring He is.
Shouldn't I -- shouldn't my art -- praise Him, and give Him the glory?  Shouldn't it point others to the One who made me and gave me everything, including the desire and ability to create?

In The Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis writes:

“[God] wants to bring the man to a state of mind in which he could design the best cathedral in the world, and know it to be the best, and rejoice in the fact, without being any more (or less) or otherwise glad at having done it than he would be if it had been done by another. [God] wants him, in the end, to be so free from any bias in his own favour that he can rejoice in his own talents as frankly and gratefully as in his neighbour's talents--or in a sunrise, an elephant, or a waterfall.”

My happy place, wearing messy old clothes and getting my hands dirty playing with flowers.  

Wouldn't it be a joyful, wonderful thing to be so free of pride?  To see all work as a reflection of God's glory, and all talent as a gift from God?  It wouldn't matter how my work compared to another's, or if I couldn't quite get it right.  I could enjoy the freedom found in worshiping the Creator, and not the created.  Johann Sebastian Bach used to scrawl S.D.G. across the bottom of his compositions.  Soli Deo Gloria: To God alone be the glory.  How I need a heart that is set right, that gives Him the glory above all else.  How I need to be set free from pride to enjoy and worship Him alone, to be able to say to God be the glory.    
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RAW rocks

Let me go ahead and throw a disclaimer out there: I am not a professional (or even a properly educated) photographer.  I've never taken a photography class, or even read a photography book.  I've just taken a lot of photos with my trusty Rebel and learned a bit along the way.

That said, sometimes I choose to learn things the hard way.  Sometimes (often, actually) I choose to ignore perfectly good advice from others who know much more than I.  So after seeing on many photo blogs and in many tutorials about how important it is to shoot in RAW, I of course ignored it completely and kept right on taking JPEGs.  And dealing with dark, orangey, or over-exposed photos.

I'm not out to write a tutorial for shooting or editing in RAW, as there are plenty out there already written by more knowledgeable people than me, I'm just hoping maybe I can convince y'all that shooting in RAW is the way to go.  And maybe I can save you from the awful JPEG photos I dealt with.  

So here goes.  

The lighting in our house is not so great.  We have lots of trees, which I love, but it really cuts down on the natural light we receive.  So anytime (every time!)  I take photos indoors, this is what I tend to get:
Now, I did exaggerate a bit here so I can show you how wonderful RAW images are, but you get the idea.  Too dark, too orangey (white balance is wrong).  If I adjusted the shutter speed to compensate for the lack of light, I ended up with blurry images (especially when shooting the kids).

Later, I would try to edit the photo by adjusting the levels:

Or the brightness:

And then the saturation and hue:
And this was about as good as I could get when I started with such a dark image.  (Like I said, I did exaggerate a bit, but the end result is not good!)

BUT if I took the exact same image in RAW and opened it in the RAW editor, I could adjust a few sliders (exposure, and clarity) and change the white balance (which was the major problem with the original photo besides the darkness) to auto, and get this:
I haven't done anything else to this photo yet, I've only made those few adjustments with the RAW editor.  And by the way, I'm not using super expensive editing software.  My $50 copy of Photoshop Elements has a RAW editor built in.  And being able to salvage photos of my kids is definitely worth that.

If you are convinced and want to start shooting in RAW, but don't know where to start, here are some wonderful resources:
What is RAW, anyway?
RAW for beginners
For a little more advanced editing

That's just to get you started - there are tons more out there.  Happy shooting!
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