Fringe Hour Art

Here are two artworks that I made in my “fringe hours” this week. I used scrapbook papers, a book page, fabric, watercolors, and a few found items.

Art for Blog feb 2015

Teresa 2015 Art

I sealed over both of these with Mod Podge. My scanning job isn’t great, but hopefully you get the idea!

The first artwork was inspired by this vintage photo of my mother and grandmother.

Grandma Eckstine and Betty

Since I didn’t include face details, it’s interesting that my artwork also looks similar to photos of my mother and me when I was little.

The second one was inspired by this photo of me.

I'm wearing a custom made red jacket from eShakti, a classy scarf, black boots, a black top, skinny jeans from Deb's, and a Betsey Johnson watch.

Hello, world!

Hope you are having a great weekend and doing something fun with your fringe hours too, my friend.

xoxo

Teresa C.

A Love Post for Valentine’s Day? Of course!

In a world often filled with judgmental glances, harsh words, and “me first” moments, fight back with love whenever possible. Let kind words be healing arrows to the heart — including your own heart. Yes, those critical thoughts you’ve been having toward yourself: try to answer each one with love (I am telling myself this right now).

It is not easy. It takes strength. There are times for examining ourselves closely, making changes, and striving to be better. There are times when raw honesty is needed, but there are also moments when it helps to look at how far you have come. Remember the victories instead of tearing yourself down today.

Our God is perfect and just, and His standard is high, but He also deeply loves those who give their hearts to Him. He knows we are not perfect, but He is working in those who believe in Him. Looking through the Bible, it is easy to see that he uses some unlikely and flawed people!

Wonderfully-Made-by-Holley-Gerth_com_

This video has a beautiful reading of a Bible passage from Song of Solomon about love. I think it’s an art work!

My one word resolution for 2015 is Selah, a Hebrew word that can be translated as pause and praise. I just found out last night that one of my personal essays will be published in the June issue of Bella Grace magazine. I am so excited about it! I love to go to my local Books-a-Million, grab a drink, and read Bella Grace while my son naps.

**pause and praise**

Before I sign off for today, I would like to ask you to consider a prayer request for me. My Sheltie was hit by a car in December, and his leg is broken. It is sad seeing him with a splint, and he is not healing quickly. This is definitely a financial strain for my family because we are having a lot of vet visits, so — even though I know it may sound silly to pray for a dog — please pray that God will heal Pupperoni and keep the financial strain under control for our family!

Have a wonderful Valentine’s Day! :)

xoxo

Teresa

P.S. The discount code mamamuseme is still good at eShakti if you are looking for some cute plus size fashion.

Winsome // Come Away from Patrick Mason on Vimeo.

One of a Kind Fashion Inspiration

I'm wearing a custom made red jacket from eShakti, a classy scarf, black boots, a black top, skinny jeans from Deb's, and a Betsey Johnson watch.

I’m wearing a red jacket from eShakti, a classy scarf, black boots, a black top, and skinny jeans from Deb’s.

You are one of a kind, and so am I. No matter your size, it’s nice to look beyond the usual numbers on a tag. I’m 5’2 and plus size – and often, retailers aren’t thinking about a short woman who is curvy but also not so “blessed in the chest.” That’s my challenge. Maybe you have your own set of challenges.

I love beautiful clothes that fit well, and I definitely celebrate when I find something great. I’m not the type who fills my closet with too many clothes because I think it simplifies life (and saves money) to just pick a few quality pieces that can be worn a lot of ways.

I think this little red jacket is so pretty! It looks best with a solid top, and I think wearing it with a scarf draws attention up to your eyes.

I think this little red jacket is so pretty! It looks best with a solid top, and I think wearing it with a scarf draws attention toward your smiling face :)

I recently discovered a site that takes your measurements for a customized fit, from sizes 0 to 32, and I want to share my experience with you because it was excellent. The site is eShakti. A red cropped jacket caught my attention immediately when I browsed. I thought the color was beautiful, and the style was different from anything else in my closet.

As a full time mom, I was thinking about the fact that the jacket would provide nice coverage while I chase my son around or when I’m holding him (he tugs on my clothes a lot), and the jacket seemed versatile enough to be dressed up or dressed down with jeans. For now, I will mostly be wearing the jacket to church, out to meals, and to fun events, but I figured this wardrobe staple would also be a great professional piece for when I re-enter the work force in a couple years.

The site took more measurements than I’ve ever thought about doing on my body, including my upper arm circumference – but I figured that was a good sign. When my jacket came in the mail, I started trying it on with skinny jeans, a black top, a classy scarf, and shiny flats because that’s my idea of comfort and classic style.

When I wore the scarf combo to church on Sunday, the first person who saw me immediately complimented the jacket. It was also great to wear for a little sushi lunch date with my husband this past week.

I think custom sizing is a strong style secret, especially if you want to buy a few go-to pieces or you’re dressing up for an occasion you’re looking forward to. The fit of your clothes can make a difference in how you carry yourself, and it does leave an impression. Lots of people say buy a piece and then get it tailored, but that can be more expensive than just finding a spot where you can custom order. Honestly, I’m not the type who would get something tailored after I buy it in a store. I want it to fit when I buy it – for cost reasons and for efficiency. I will hem my own jeans since I’m short, but that’s it.

I know spending money on clothes is a bit of a luxury nowadays, but I figure if you are going to buy something, why not make it something that you know will look great and fit you perfectly? I asked eShakti if I could offer my readers a coupon code for their site, and they kindly sent one. If you type in mamamuseme now through February 24 in the special offers box, you can get 10 percent off your order. If you’re looking for a jacket, here is a link to one similar to mine that also looks beautiful.

xoxo Teresa C.

Bring on 2015

On this New Year’s Eve, I’m looking back on a time that has been so amazing in terms of seeing my son transform from a baby to a toddler — watching him take his first steps, then run, then play in the sand at the lake, and then start to say his first words and figure out big-sized Legos. His go-to word is “car,” which he says repeatedly all day, but it sounds like he has a Boston accent. This is hilarious because we live nowhere near Boston. Just picture an almost two year old saying “cah, cah, cah” as he drives his toy cars around all day. It’s adorable. We just hope he won’t drive like a Bostonian someday (wink, we still love Boston).

A year ago, I started this little blog, and it’s been viewed by people from 23 different countries. The numbers are interesting, but what means the most to me is when a reader leaves a comment, or if you are touched by a post, even if you’ve never commented. Above all, I hope my faith posts have been pleasing to God and inspiring to you.

In the coming year, I’m going to be branching out into a few new subjects on my blog. I’m going to be doing some writing about plus size fashion because it’s something I really enjoy, and I’m passionate about women of many shapes and sizes finding clothes that make them feel beautiful. I talk about plus size fashion often and follow other blogs about it, so I figured, why not add this to my blog? Carpe diem! I hope you will enjoy it.

I’m still going to write about books and the Bloom Book Club picks. I might also share some recipes. Faith and motherhood will still be here too. Other than that, I will see what the coming year brings. This past year I discovered two faith blogs that I really enjoy, and I would like to share those with you if you are interested in following them. One is Sarah’s blog at http://strainme.wordpress.com/. You will be inspired by her writing. Another blog that is excellent is http://www.wheregivinghappens.com/. These ladies write words that are filled with power.

Last year, my One Word Resolution was “connect.” It was a wonderful word for 2014. I bonded with my son, met new people, and discovered some new interests, including playing the guitar. This year, I’m thinking about the Hebrew word “Selah” (which I’ve seen translated as pause and reflect, or pause and praise). I like the “pause and praise” translation. I’m also thinking about the word “shine” because that sounds fun. Never heard of a One Word resolution? Visit http://oneword365.com/ for ideas. I know my One Word Resolution stayed with me all year in 2014. I had weekly reminders of my word set up on my Kindle, but the word was in my mind even without the reminders. I would say this is the first time I’ve ever had a successful New Years Resolution, and it’s because the approach is different from the typical resolutions that are often set up for failure. A One Word Resolution is more of a long-term mindset.

What are you excited about for 2015? Do you have a One Word Resolution?

Making New Christmas Traditions

Christmas

Our son is almost two now, so this Christmas is already shaping up to be really fun. The lights and music are way up his alley. He keeps pointing to the Cars movie-themed wrapping paper I’m using and saying, “car, car, car.” Santa freaks him out, but he loves walking through the local park to see the huge lights display. Now we get dancing and heart-melting grins along with every new experience.

Last year, Carson stared at the lights, but he couldn’t figure out how to unwrap a present. This year, I’m pretty sure Carson will want to open everybody’s presents. That’s why the presents are on a table instead of under the tree.

The Tree Debate

Looking at the turkeys in the snow late Nov. 2014 2

One debate we had: tree or no tree. Last year, we had a small tabletop tree. We figured that between our son, a Sheltie, and a hound, the tree would not be in one piece before the countdown was over on the advent calendar.

I brought Carson over to my mom’s house last week, and she already had a little tree up near her fireplace. Carson pointed, danced around, and spoke all kinds of excited jibberish about the little tree – and he managed to not touch it the whole time.

So, mommy gave in, and we decided to get an artificial tree. We chose artificial because we felt like it would be too tempting to have a bucket full of rocks and water at the bottom of a real tree. We do have a toddler and two dogs, after all.

I’m so glad we decided to put up the tree. It looks beautiful. The Sheltie naps on the tree skirt; the hound ignores it, and Carson looks at it throughout the day. He does try to pull some of the ornaments off the tree, but telling him “no” usually makes him stop, even if I’m across the room. I am pleasantly amazed.

Of course, we still have 15 days to go.

How I Mildly Toddler-Proofed the Tree

I’ve decided to decorate the tree with ornaments that won’t break just in case. I also used strong thread instead of metal hooks to hang the ornaments. I have an adorable plush fox couple from Cracker Barrel on the tree, and I’ve also made homemade ornaments using pages from a thrifted Jane Austen novel and Mod Podge. On each ornament, I’ve glued a silhouette. The silhouettes include a beagle, a Sheltie, the manger scene, birds, tea cups, a train because Carson loves trains, and deer heads that look very “now.”

DSCN2125[1] DSCN2133[1] DSCN2142[1]

Thinking About Family Traditions

Last year, our son was small enough that I wasn’t thinking about family traditions yet. This year, it suddenly hit me: it’s time to think about all of it — the tree, which cookies I will bake, which places and experiences will create memories for him. Before Carson, my husband and I had a few Christmas traditions, but we were pretty minimalist other than a few basic decorations, walking through the park, visiting family, and going to a Christmas service at church.

Now I think back to my own childhood memories of Christmas. My mom did the whole she-bang. We had a manger scene and a train under the tree. She baked tons of cookies, and our house was full of lights. My brother and I had parts to say in the Christmas church service. We had family get-togethers. Being young, I thought all of that just “came together.”

Now I see what a role a mommy plays in all of it. It makes me excited.

I put Carson up in his high chair and play him the few Christmas songs that I have learned on my guitar. In the Sunday School class I’m teaching for two and three year olds, I’ve also played the songs while the kids clapped along, and I found a really neat app for my Kindle that lets the kids create a manger scene. The class was enthralled! They’re young, but I hope I can help make some memories for them too.

Making a Spiritual Tradition

Part of my enthusiasm this year also has a lot to do with the fact that I started spiritually preparing for the holidays over Thanksgiving week. I read The Women of Christmas by Liz Curtis Higgs, and it gave me a much more in-depth view of the Christian perspective of Christmas than I’d had before. The author focuses on the women’s point of view in the story of Christmas while maintaining historical and biblical accuracy. By the end of the book, I was filled with joy. You will probably feel the same way if you read it! It will make you feel like you’re there beside Mary, Elizabeth, and Anna as they experience the miracle. I am so glad that I got the chance to read this book.

Rather than retell you what I read, I encourage you to visit the author’s site at http://www.lizcurtishiggs.com/ and try to get your hands on the book. Liz Curtis Higgs tells the Christmas story with such eloquence. You can find some of her blog posts about Christmas as it relates to Mary, Elizabeth, and Anna here: http://www.lizcurtishiggs.com/category/the-women-of-christmas/.

If you have time to read just one good post from her blog, I think this is a good one. http://www.lizcurtishiggs.com/the-women-of-christmas-the-virgin-mother-kind/

Originally, I had planned on blogging about all of the “ah-ha” moments, but I decided that I just want to cherish those thoughts in my own mind and not let my thoughts get in the way of what you might discover yourself as you seek Christ this season.

If you do read the book, go back and read the Bible passage of the Christmas story as well. You will be amazed at the new connections you’ll make.

Or, even if you do none of the above, I hope you’ll read the Christmas story directly from The Bible in the gospel of Luke. I will admit that it’s easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of festivities. That’s why it really helped for me to read the book and Bible passage in late November.

What are your favorite holiday traditions? How do you spiritually prepare for Christmas?

Hope you are doing well, my friend. As 2014 draws to a close, I just wanted to thank you for reading my blog this year. I hope I was able to encourage you, make you think, or give you a “me too” moment. Even as it seems like people are less likely to look into a stranger’s eyes nowadays, thank you for taking the time to thoughtfully read. The words on this blog are my way of “looking into your eyes” and speaking kindness into your life. Through this, we connect. 

With love,

Teresa C.

Just for Fun

DSCN2097I made a huge collage just for fun this past weekend. I woke up early and got out the Mod Podge, clipped a bunch of photos from magazines that spoke to me with their positivity, and created something that I think is pretty great ;-) Sometimes it’s fun to stop being a “serious grown-up” for a few hours and just do something like this. When I look at it now, I smile every time.

DSCN2091

 DSCN2090DSCN2093DSCN2099DSCN2095I think this sort of captures the best aspects of my life right now — both what it is, and what I aspire toward in the future. The oven is on there because, well, I really want a new oven. Ours is from the 1970s. The one in the photo is much more fancy than what I need, but who could resist a photo of a red oven? Sigh…

The photo of the boy dressed up as a prince makes me think of my son. I even have a little pop culture shout out to Zooey Deschanel and Carrie Brownstein.

Hope you enjoyed this little peek at my creative spark.

With love,

Teresa C.

Let’s All Be Brave

I just finished reading Annie F. Downs’ book Let’s All Be Brave, and I’ve watched the Bloom Book Club videos about it. I’ve been thinking: what does brave look like for me?

Starting this blog was brave. I am not a person who usually speaks up; few people except my husband and a few close friends know what I’m really thinking because I don’t say it aloud. I tend to keep my thoughts and opinions to myself because I’ve found that speaking up tends to make life more complicated. The truth is, it is fear that keeps me from joining the conversation and standing by my views. I’m afraid of being judged, disliked, or written off by others — but I write myself off by not speaking up sometimes.

My first career was in journalism, and in that field, being unbiased is valued. Of course, it was impossible not to form personal opinions, but it was my job to represent both sides equally so that the reader could form an opinion independently. It was my job to be fair, and that was a professional priority for me. I got used to telling other people’s stories and voicing other people’s opinions eloquently.

Yet, saying what I’m actually thinking in a blog format — that takes so much more courage than the journalism writing that I did before. As a reporter, I was sent out to do interviews in a tornado one time, so journalism took plenty of courage as well. That type of writing never left me personally vulnerable though.

Even if people didn’t like what I wrote as a journalist, I knew it wasn’t actually me that was bothering them. That helped me develop a thick skin for criticism, but I have begun to break down some of those defenses — especially now that I am a wife and a mother. My heart has softened. I realize that I do care what others think, but it does leave me much more open to being hurt.

Even now, I don’t want to be vulnerable. I felt led to start this blog earlier this year, and even though it is small, it takes bravery every time that I write. What I write isn’t very controversial for other Christians, but for people who are not believers, what I’m writing is bold territory. To stand up and say that I believe in Christ takes courage, but I am glad to say it.

If you are like me — a person who is shy about speaking up, even if what you have to say is encouraging and edifying — I understand how brave it is to write a blog post or leave a genuine comment on someone else’s blog. For more extroverted types, this probably doesn’t look brave at all. One of the points that Annie makes in the book club videos is that my brave will look different from your brave. What looks easy for one person will take bravery for another, but God sees and knows your heart. He knows how much bravery He’s asking of you.

For some people, it takes bravery to believe that Christ really forgives. It takes bravery to share your spiritual gifts instead of hiding them. It takes bravery to open up to others if you have been hurt in the past. It takes bravery to stop repeating past mistakes. It takes bravery to pray and let Christ show you an area of weakness in your life that He wants to address.

In this blog, I have shared two very personal things about myself: the scar that I have, and my experience with preeclampsia. I have also shared so much of my joy about being a mother and about God’s grace. I will probably never know the full impact of this blog on the lives of others, but I do know that God is teaching me about myself as I write.

So, this blog is my BIG brave. Also, keeping a positive attitude despite struggles and relying on God to keep his promises in my daily life is another BIG brave.

One of my smaller areas of bravery lately was committing to sewing some dresses for Sewing 4 Souls even though I do not sew well. I also think it took some bravery to go to adult guitar lessons at a local church this fall; it is something completely new for me, but I am enjoying it. What would be really brave would be to play the guitar in front of others, and that day may come.

To give you something to think about, I want to leave you with a quote from Annie’s book.

I never tied discipline to courage. I never saw the correlation. I guess I should have, since I lack in both. But in all matters — physical, mental, and spiritual — I believe that to live a disciplined life leads to a brave life. We long to be brave in the big moments, in the clutch times, in the times when our backs are up against a wall. But to get there? It’s the everyday. It’s the practice. It’s the steps. It’s the discipline.

What areas of practice (honing your talents) or spiritual discipline (prayer, etc.) might help you be more brave when times get tough?

small step

I hope you are having a wonderful week. If you read along with the Bloom Book Club, I hope you were challenged by this book.

With love,

Teresa