On Confidence

There has always been this dream of mine, more the daydream kind than the sleep dream kind, that involves me being really old and wrinkly and wearing huge sun hats and garden boots and old baggy mens shirts and cardigans. And in my current state of childhood, I desire to be so old that I no longer care what I look like or what people think of me and I can wear and say whatever I want. And while I try to be more wise than to wish my life away, I have an unquenchable thirst for this certain level of freedom that only comes with age and many, many wrinkles.

I’m twenty six years old, and while I already wear strange things and huge hats and mismatched outfits, there still remains a sort of vanity deep within my soul. The thought of getting married and sharing all my imperfections (the less than perfect swimsuit legs, the stretch marks from when I grew an entire foot during the summer of ’94, the perma dark circles under my eyes) was rather paralyzing. There was somehow this lack of enthusiasm in baring all to my new and optimistic husband. And this is as perfect as my body will ever be, for gravity has its ways and no one will ever conquor it.

And yet, here lies freedom. For every young girl with doubts and imperfections, take heart. Your husband will find you the most beautiful creature alive. Yes, you’ll still annoy him some days, and sometimes he’d rather you not play with his hair and scratch his back while he’s working on your marriage blog. Ahem. But at the end of the day, there is freedom in being loved through things he’ll never even notice. There is joy in seeing beyond yourself, in watching him admire your wisdom and see the beauty in your body and your soul, rather than focusing on what isn’t. Cast your fears and your bodies aside, for love is real and it offers more freedom than staying hidden behind makeup or clothing or even big hats. For you are “fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners…” He hardly stands a chance.

And if you’re a man, and if you have the chance to glean from the soul of a woman, then close your eyes and dive in. The rest is an ever-aging, soon-to-be-vanished-from-this-world vessel. While in this life, you hold her very soul in your hands.

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Improving Home Improvement (is that already taken?)

Because our home decor budget isn’t too hefty, I’ve really tried to prioritize our purchases so I’m not overspending or doing it aimlessly. One of the biggest issues I have is that I get to Lowe’s, forget which projects really need finished, and just buy what looks pretty. So I’ve done a very quick run through of our apartment, taken pictures of things that need the most attention, and saved it all in a file on our computer. The result is a quick project guide for tackling the uglies to make this feel like home.

Buy frame & chalkboard sticker for door

Need side table

Buy another hook to hang measuring cup
Bring back chairs from Oklahoma
Buy something to use as nightstand
Spray paint this shelf for bathroom
Buy art to hang on this wall
Buy tape to finish stripes in bathroom

List
Lowe’s:
Paint for living room & kitchen walls
Spray paint for frame and shelf
1 hook for measuring cup
Painters tape

Paper store in mall:
Chalkboard sticker

Thrift:
Frame
1 table next to couch
1 table for nightstand
Art for dining area

Other:
Get 2 chairs from Oklahoma

Anybody have any ideas for what we should add to these spaces?

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A Stitch in Time

Because a few of you asked (and because I love to share) this is the project I was working on during the infamous Sports Mentor video. I’ve just started playing around with embroidery thread because I was inspired by Anthropologie’s kitchen towels. Every year, I try to convince my family to make handmade gifts for everyone at Christmas. They say no, but I do it anyway, so these are probably what they’re getting. i.e. Mom and sisters speak up now if you want something different. Love you.

I spent about $9 on the 3 tea towels, $14 on thread and needles (but I bought a large amount of both that will last me forever, so I don’t count that in the price) and spent about 12 hours total on the bottom towel. I was so excited at how they turned out, but now I understand why they’re so expensive. The first only took 2-3 hours and the second is still in the draft phase.

I’ll probably have some patterns available online soon if anyone wants to try their hand at embroidery. It’s fun and pretty and girly and Christmas gifty. Who wouldn’t want to try it?

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Marriage Equals Shareage

There are the obvious things you sign up for in marriage. Sharing a household means cooking an occasional meal for the other person, sometimes washing dishes you didn’t eat off of, and keeping your stuff off the floor. I don’t even mind you using my toothbrush now and then, and I’ll even wake up a little early to make you coffee some days. But marriage is such a tease. It lures you in, one cute fuzzy moment at a time, and then it asks you to give everything.

There are dreams you have as a brave 24 year old woman that don’t hold water in a marriage. Suddenly your nights of independence fly by in a blurry haze of grocery shopping and cooking and cleaning and work talk. And the cute little apartment you’ve always dreamed of having is shared with posters of athletes and smells like boy. And so you form a new dream. Except that you can’t form it on your own because you’re only one half of this intricate twisted mess that God has thrown together. And I’m rarely grateful for only one half.

Kyle dreams dreams of things I can’t understand, of doing things neither of us can put our fingers on. He has an incredible job that we’re both thankful for, but he longs to start something on the side, to grow and cultivate something real and good and true. And there is risk in dreaming, for when you find the one thing you’re meant to do, it requires your whole heart. To him, it’s an entire universe of possibility. To me it’s simply maddening. Why can’t he just want one steady job like a normal person? You didn’t marry him because he was a normal person. What if he wants to start a side business and we lose tons of money? It’s only money. Yeah but our kids! Our kids need diapers and clothes and food. You don’t even have kids. Stop being dramatic.

And he dreams a new dream every week.

“We should try this…” or “What if I started this company?”

I bet he hasn’t even prayed about this and that’s just not fair.

“I really want to write for a living. What if I just started writing for a living?”

Seriously? You just have readers sitting around ready to shell out dollars?

“What if we just sold all our stuff and moved to Georgia?”

Don’t say mean things. Don’t say mean things. Don’t say mean things.

Some days it’s fun to dream. And some days I just want to hold my breath and stomp my foot and stay right where we are. Yet I have a feeling that our dream will be ever changing, that some days it will be solid and some days a complete mess. But this is life, and it’s messy and sometimes scary and usually unpredictable. And so I trust in my husband to lead us in whatever direction the Lord takes him. While I work on being encouraging and uplifting and a much better wife than I am right now. God knew what he was doing when he made men the spiritual leaders. No, it wasn’t a misprint, no, he wasn’t just joking around, and no, I am not an exception to the rule. There is joy and freedom in that if only I will open my eyes.

Tomorrow will be a new struggle. But today, I follow you.

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The O’BB Muffs

As we promised this weekend via Twitter, here’s one of our new favorite recipes: Oatmeal Blueberry Muffins. We stole this from Kyle’s mom over the 4th, and made them for the two of us when we got home. They were gone within 15 hours which makes me feel really guilty and really excited to share all at the same time. We’re not sure how healthy they actually are, but they taste healthy, which is a bonus,if you are worried that they are not healthy look for the latest news about blood sugar ultra.

They have more texture and less goo than normal bb muffs. Plus if you take out the vegetable oil, the sugar, and everything else that makes them taste so good, they’re actually not that bad for you.

My very technical notes:

I had quite a bit  of the liquid leftover, so don’t feel like you have to use it all.

Also, I think “fold in blueberries” just means you should make sure not to smash them.

For extra deliciousness, top warm muffin with a little butter and sugar sprinkles.

And voila. Healthy tasting, still-not-sure-how-healthy-they-are blueberry muffins. Have you tried any great recipes lately? Post one of your favorites below and we can all steal ideas and look like great cooks.

Oh, and click on the recipe if you want to see the awesome website that helped us create our post today!
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Shop Thrift at Thrift Shops

I can’t remember the last time I bought something new to wear. I bought a few new things for our honeymoon (see how that turned out here), but I rarely shop to buy new clothes. There’s something so compelling about walking into a thrift store, never knowing what you’ll find, but expecting to be inspired. I do it for many reasons, but mostly because I love finding beauty in things someone else threw away.

Here are my favorite reasons to shop thrift:

1. Your house will look like yours- not anyone else’s.

I don’t sign up for Pottery Barn catalogs. They’re gorgeous, and in brief spurts I love things that match and don’t have scratches or dents. But that’s dangerous for two reasons: it’s not me, and it tugs on my heart to spend more money than Kyle has I have. So I pick things that have a story and that inspire me to creativity.

2. It makes me learn new things.

I learned how to re-cover an old chair, not by taking a class, but by trial and error in my own little space. I’m learning to hand embroider because I love Anthropologie but I can’t afford their tea towels. I make pillows out of old scarves because I love the fabric and the total project costs $3.84.  Thriftcore says it like this: The “if only” forces some creativity on your part to create the perfect item. Suddenly you remember how to sand, paint, and use the saw. You’re a creator again. And the more creativity you use, the more you have. So says Maya Angelou, and so say I.

3. It’s cheap.

I never want to pay more than $3.99 for a shirt again. And thanks to people who tire of their clothes, I’ll never have to.

Tomorrow: the pledge we’ve taken as a married couple to buy used things and a list of things we’ll never buy new. In the meantime, get inspired at Thriftcore and ReadyMade.

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Indoor Holiday

If you’re like most people we know, hurricane Alex is dampening your spirits and your outdoor activities. Today, we beg you: do anything besides watch T.V. Here are some fun (and thrifty) ideas to try with the people you’re stuck indoors with you love.

1. Have an indoor picnic.
The last time we used blankets creatively indoors, my sister and I were building tent cities in our living room. Turn on some music and throw yourselves a picnic.

2. Have a game day.

Brush the dust off of your old Scrabble game and get busy. Some of our other favorites: Scattegories, Buzz Word, Bananagrams, Loaded Questions, and Cranium. Fun for all ages.

3. Start a new craft (or finish an old one).

Most craft stores are closed today, but look around your house. You’ll find all sorts of inspiration. Make a pillow out of an old dress, paint some stripes on your wall, finish that scarf you started last winter, cut and paste magazine pics to make a wall collage.

4. Make a new dessert.
Put on an apron and pretend your work in a French bakery. You can say things like “Bonjour! Welcome to my boulangerie.” Oui, oui. Tee hee.

5. Read. You’ll learn something. Or spark your imagination. It’s crazy.

Photo Attribution: Picnic | Game | Sewing | Bakery | Book | Flag |

Southbound 35

Dallas and I are trying to become friends. One day at a time we’re getting to know each other a little better, but I’m leary of new friends and really attached to old ones. I love almost everything about the south, but here there seems to be a lack of open range and way too many shopping malls.  We forget there are stars for lack of seeing them, and the only dirt roads are the ones being dug up for construction. There are few things that can replace the feeling of being at home, but my old soul finds solace in some very interesting places. Ice cream, the Bible, and hippie little towns. Obviously not in that order.

Intro: Austin.

There’s something very spiritual about living a simple life, about listening to southern rock while wearing vintage clothing and laying barefoot in the grass. That’s what I picture Austin to be: miles apart from Dallas, a sort of Chris Robinson to an Emily Gilmore. And so this weekend, as we travel to this great city, I pay tribute to my new state capital. Some fun things I only wish were happening this weekend in Austin:

Renegade Craft


ACL


South by Southwest

Do something hippie this weekend. It’s very patriotic.

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Polly Want a Haircut?

The reason I first cut Kyle’s hair was due to a cosmetology mishap: about 2 years ago he left his barber looking like a cockatoo. See above for visual. My job was to fix it, and so we came to the only conclusion either of us could think of: buzz it off and start over. Then I found out how much he was paying and we decided to try it for real.

Disclaimer: this activity is not for weak relationships or the faint of heart. We’ve had several domestic disputes over the cutting of hair, and though our relationship has survived, there have been words exchanged, blood spilled, and many imminent breakups on the horizon. (The first time we tried it, Kyle stormed out halfway through sporting a droopy version of a ’90’s bowl cut. He was serious about going to work the next day until I convinced him he looked like a homeless Zack Morris).

Yet we come out on the other side basking in this glory: By not spending those $16 every 2 weeks, we will save $16,640 over the next 40 years. Not to mention what we’ll save with kids. Check it out:

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PS: This is Kyle and I have never in my life looked like that bird. I promise.

The Best Laid Plans…

So here’s the deal – we’re thrifty and practical. You saw our wedding budget. We rarely eat out, but there’s one problem: grocery shopping is one of my least favorite things to do. Yet if I neglect it for too long, the fridge gets bare and scary & Kyle has to eat strange concoctions. He starts asking questions about when I went shopping last, I take it the wrong way, and then we’re both mad. And still hungry.

Our friends Summer & Ryan told us the other day about how they plan out their menus on paper every week. My first thought was, “Psssh. I can do this in my head.” Then things started to go badly. So my new train of thought is this: If I can save just one trip to the grocery store every week, then 30-40 minutes of menu planning was worth it. Today I planned out the menu for this week (a great starter week since we’ll be gone over the holiday weekend). Our budget allows for us to spend $10 per day on groceries, so I know I’ll have to keep the grand total under $40. Here’s the final draft:

Porter Family Menu

I tried to keep in mind that leftovers are my friend and that we need to use up everything we buy. Most lunches are a repeat of the night before, and a package of English Muffins will serve as buns for our turkey burgers as well as toast to our eggs for breakfasts. Because of our budget, I can’t get too fancy (ingredients we don’t have can add up fast) so my rule is that we’ll try one fancy new recipe every 1-2 weeks. That way, most of our $10 is going toward actual food instead of ingredients to be shelved.

I’m already feeling better about dinners for the week, though I found some templates that are prettier than the one I used. See below.

Do any of you plan your menus for the week? Any great tips or ideas?

PS : CONGRATULATIONS to our first book giveaway winner – Katie Dawson. Thanks to everyone for playing, we’ll do it again soon!