Friday, September 30, 2011

Super Chic Gift Ideas

There is a place here in Durham that has quickly become one of my favorite spots:  Parker & Otis.  There is nothing not to love about this place - they have EXCELLENT food for breakfast & lunch, and it's a combo store / pantry / restaurant.  The store is unbelievably cute with all the best gift-y things under the sun - stuff for home, kitchen, bath, and baby.  Yes, please.  

To give you an idea of how "me" this store is, the first time we went into Parker & Otis, Brent stopped in his tracks and had a horrified look on his face.  He said simply, "Oh, crap."  haha!  That's how worried he was that I would go on a spending spree.  {You'll be happy to know that I didn't spend a dime that first time I was there.  I know you're as proud of me as I was.}

Today I went in to buy a birthday gift, and I had to literally pull myself away from the displays.  Then I got a great idea - what if I went on a pretend shopping spree and shared my finds with you, dear reader?  If you need a gift for anyone this fall, I'm pretty sure one of these items will be a hit.  I know you don't have Parker & Otis where you live (poor you!), so I've linked you directly to the source of the cuteness.  And if anyone wants to buy me a gift, well...

To start, let's talk about how much we love these vintage/modern bird print melamine plates.  I am just smitten with this print, and I especially would love the big oval platter in the upper left corner.  How great would that be to serve family-style dinners?  And p.s. don't even get me started on those little plates with the eggs on them. 
There is nothing quite like a good thank you card.  My mama taught me well, and I have written a thank you note for most gifts I've received in my life.  Writing thank yous is easier when there is cute stationary involved!  I just about died over this collection of embossed thank you cards from Smock.  OMG.  Wait till you click on that link.  You're going to want them all.  Sorry... it's not my fault they are so darn cute!!
Do I need baby clothes?  Absolutely not.  Do I want to buy them?  Yes.  I just think this owl print playsuit from Dwell Studio is adorable.  If you are a Chi-O and your baby doesn't have this, I think you should probably resolve that ASAP :-)
These Le Cruset mini-gratin dishes are just begging to be taken home to live in my cabinet.  I'm not entirely sure what I would make to put in here, but I assure you I would figure it out.  They are sized for individual dinner guests, go straight from the oven to the table, and let's chat about how stinkin' cute these fall colors are.  I'm thinking two of each color?  Let me know if you agree. 
There is a company called Apple & Bee, and they make the most precious environmentally sustainable bags.  I am in love with this lovehearts cosmetic bag!
... Speaking of cute bags... If I'm going to shop Apple & Bee, I'm going to go ahead and pick up this precious lovebirds tote as well.  I would be the most stylish chica at the grocery store, no?
Every time I go to Parker & Otis, I admire these clay cheese markers.  How chic would these look on your next cheese plate?  They are handmade and hand painted with cute polka dots and stripes on the back.  They are made by a clay artist named Rae Dunn, and he has some super cute stuff on his website.  Check it out!
I am obsessed with beautiful, graphic, modern fabric.  If only I could sew.... I'd have my whole house covered in this stuff.  The next best thing is these darling dish towels and napkins from Hen House Linens.  I wouldn't mind a few of these hanging off my oven just about now.

Thanks for pretend shopping with me!!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Through the Fire

I'm currently in a Bible study with wives of business school students. I love being able to have community with them and share similar struggles and highlights. We are doing a Beth Moore study on Daniel, which seems like a strange choice, but it has been AMAZING. Last night we studied Daniel 3, and it just overwhelmed me. God's word is so rich and full of application for us, even in the Old Testament!

You've probably heard the story of Daniel 3. I know I last thought about it in Sunday school as a kid, and I'm pretty sure there was a song about it. It's a good story, but it didn't really sink in with me until yesterday.  I was thinking maybe it's the same with you, so I wanted to share. It's the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego escaping the fiery furnace. You should really go read Daniel 3 for yourself here, but I'll give you the basic overview:

King Nebuchadnezzar (king of Babylon) has a 90 foot high golden statue made and orders all of Babylon to fall down and worship the statue. Anyone who does not bow down and worship the statue will be thrown into the fiery furnace, already raging. At the king's command, every person in Babylon from the lowliest citizen to the highest official bows down to the statue - except for three men of God - Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. They refuse to bow down. Nebuchadnezzar gives them a second chance, but they boldly proclaim that they will NEVER bow down. They proclaim that their God is able to deliver them from the furnace, but even if He doesn't, they still won't bow down. Infuriated, the king orders the fires to be heated 7 times hotter, has the three men tied up, and orders them thrown into the fire. The fire is so hot that the soldiers who throw them in are immediately burned to death. Once Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego are in the furnace, the crowd notices something disturbing - they see four men walking around in the fire. Sure enough, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego plus a fourth man are walking around, unharmed and unbound in the fire. The fourth person turns out to be the son of God - a preincarnate Jesus, right there in the fire with them. A terribly frightened king calls the men out of the furnace. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego emerge completely unharmed - nothing has been singed or burned except their bonds. The Bible even says they did not even smell like smoke. And King Nebuchadnezzar believed and praised God and declared that everyone in Babylon should praise God. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego are promoted in the kingdom and are never mentioned again.

Take-Away 1: I don't want to bow down.
I can think of so many things in our culture that everyone bows down to - money, fame, celebrities, beauty, power, jobs ... the list goes on. Even if everyone else around me is bowing down, I want to actively resist the things of this world that can so easily defile. That image of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego standing tall while everyone else had their face to the ground worshipping an idol is seared in my mind. Let that be me standing, Lord. Let me care more about your fame than about what other people think. In the passage, the king's men say of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego: "They neither serve your gods nor worship the image of gold you have set up." (v. 11) Oh Lord, let that be said of me!

Take-Away 2: I want faith like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.
In the study, Beth challenged us to really wrap our minds around what was going on there. These three men resisted the king on principle. They refused to conform to the culture and blaspheme God. But at what cost? The cost was DEATH. Immediate, certain, painful death. And yet they did not waver. Even when given a second chance, they boldly stood up and declared their faith, no matter the cost.  They could have "pretended" to bow down or rationalized why they were going along with everyone else.  But they didn't. They expressed certainty that God was ABLE to save them, but also acknowledged that he might choose not to save them. Either way, they weren't going to break. They said, "If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” (v. 17-18) Do I have faith like that?

Take-Away 3: God doesn't always deliver us from the fire.
I'm sure that the three men hoped God would completely deliver them from the fire. Maybe they wished the fire would just go out. But it didn't. They were bound and they were thrown IN THE FIRE. Although God didn't deliver them FROM the fire, he delivered them THROUGH the fire. This speaks to my heart so clearly. Often, we wish for God to take away our trials. But we are guaranteed trials as Christians. It's a certainty. Often, God will have us go into the fire and he will bring us through it. When Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego emerged from the fire, "They saw that the fire had not harmed their bodies, nor was a hair of their heads singed; their robes were not scorched, and there was no smell of fire on them." (v. 27) This brings tears to my eyes. They were IN the fire, but they were not harmed. They didn't even smell like smoke. I believe that God does this all the time with situations in our lives. And guess what Beth pointed out: What was the ONLY thing that burned up? Their bonds - the ropes that had held them captive. What if we come out the other side of the fire FREER than we were before? There is one more option - it's possible that God will not deliver us from or even through the fire. It's possible that the fire will consume us. But we will be consumed for God's glory and it will be because of his great love and sovereign plan for us. I want to remember that we should always pray to be delivered from the fire because God can deliver us. But sometimes we will be delivered through the fire or not delivered at all. God's will be done.

Take-Away 4: God is with us in the fire.
One of the most amazing parts of this story and one that I think I missed as a kid is that THREE men went into the fire, but FOUR men were walking around in there, unharmed. It was so troubling that the king and his men started to freak out a little bit. The king says, "“Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.” (v. 25) Well he looked like a son of the gods because he WAS the son of God. Many scholars believe that the pre-incarnate Christ himself was in the fire with them. God was so gracious to give us this picture. Yes, he allowed them to be thrown into the fire, but HE WAS WITH THEM. Literally! When we are in the fire, God is literally with us. Weather he brings me around the fire, takes me through the fire, or consumes me in the fire, he will be with me.

Take-Away 5: I want to live for God's fame.
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were so bold with their faith that their faith spurred a ruthless king and pagan kingdom to praise God. These three men are never heard of again in the Bible... but what better way to go out than proclaiming the Lord and living for his fame? Talk about lives well lived!

Dainel.  Good stuff.  Check it out.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Wreath Roundup

It's just about time to put out a wreath!  I love wreaths, and I think they are perfectly acceptable year-round, but now is the time to pull out all the stops with fantastic fall & holiday wreaths.  I always put a wreath up in October, change it out for Christmas, and take it down around New Years.  I even put a wreath on our apartment door in Dallas, only to have it stolen.  Freaking Dallas!  Anyway...You only need to do a quick search on blogs or Pinterest to find that there are literally a zillion wreath options out there - almost all are DIY.  I thought I'd do a little web surfing for you, and I found my favorite fall options for your viewing and crafting pleasure.  I divided them into categories so you can pick one to suit your fancy, and if you want to know how to make it yourself, there are links below each picture to take you there!

I have to say... Brent knows me pretty well.  Last night I asked him to look at all the wreaths and tell me which one he thought was my favorite.  He hardly hesitated at all, and he picked my #2 fave.  Not bad!  So how well do you know me, blogger friend?  If you're the first person to correctly guess my first OR second fave in the comment section, I'll email you a $5 Starbucks e-gift card to enjoy a pumpkin spice latte on me.
Modern Wreaths
Pretty Pearls * Pom Pom Power * Modern Felt * Styrofoam Surprise!

Nontraditional Wreaths
The Monogram * The Rafia * Birds of a Feather * Yesterday's News

Crafty Wreaths
Yarn Snowballs * Beautiful Burlap * Felt Flowers * Lunch Sack Surprise!

Under $5 Wreaths
Leaves * Coffee Filters * Cotton Balls * Clothespins * Candy Corn
Happy crafting!  What's your fave?


Thursday, September 22, 2011

Fall Bucket List!

I've been seeing a lot of "fall bucket lists" on Pinterest lately, and this idea had me at hello.  The fall bucket list combines three of my most favorite things in life:

1.  Planning
2.  Holidays

Check, check, and check!  I decided right then and there that I needed a fall bucket list of my very own.  Seeing as how fall starts tomorrow, I needed to get on it.  Yesterday I took a mental break from work to research & create my own list.  I have to say it was the most enjoyable 30 minutes I've spent in a while.  I am SO EXCITED about my list and can hardly wait to start checking things off! 

Katie's Fall Bucket List 2011:

I copied another blog I saw by printing out my list and putting it in a frame.  Now I can check things off using a dry erase marker as we do them!  It looks quite adorable on my kitchen counter if I do say so myself, and it reminds me all day of the fun things I have to look forward to.  (FYI - The list was approved by Brent before it was printed.  I'd recommend husband approval before committing to the cute list and frame.)

Here's a sneak peak of some things on my list that I'm most excited about:

Visiting the Biltmore in Asheville, NC:

Afternoon tea at the Carolina Inn:

Fire pit s'mores - I want a fire pit so badly for our back yard!  I like this one.
What's on YOUR fall bucket list?  You should make one and play along.


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Falling for Fall

The official start of fall is this Friday, and I couldn't be more excited!  In Texas, fall is really what I like to call summer/winter.  It's an approximately nine minute span of time between summer and winter.  If you blink, you will miss it.  I mean, we usually decorate the Christmas tree in shorts and then go directly into wet, freezing cold.  It's odd. However, despite the Texas weather, fall is always my favorite season of all. There is so much to look forward to - Thanksgiving and Christmas, namely, and lots of good comfort food to begin cooking again.

Enter North Carolina.  How I love thee, North Carolina.  Last Sunday, Brent and I ate lunch at a restaurant outside on the patio, and I was perplexed / flabbergasted / overjoyed to find that I needed a fleece!  An honest-to-goodness, zip-it-on-up fleece.  I was nearly giddy with excitement.  I'm finally going to experience FALL in all its fall-y goodness. 

Here's what I'm looking forward to this fall:

#1:  Comfort Food
I am looking forward to chili, baked pasta, and roasts.  There is nothing better than a Sunday afternoon at home with the aroma of a slow cooked meal in the oven or crock pot.  I'm going to try this Rachael Ray Tex-Mex Corn Chip Chili and this Autumn Mac & Cheese I found on Pinterest.  You should also try my mom's roast pork loin.  Yummmmm!

#2:  Scarves
I am in love with infinity scarves.  I don't know about you, but I can never seem to tie a scarf so that it looks good.  With an infinity scarf, you just put in on, and it looks perfect every.single.time.  Good thing they are cool right now because you can get one in every color and print under the sun in just about any store.  I snagged this one from Urban Outfitters, and I am obsessed with it.  It matches, like, everything.  I think this exact one is sold out now (sorry) but they still have lots of cute ones!
#3:  Tights & Leggings
I am a huge fan of tights & leggings!!  I personally think leggings feel like pjs which is A-OK with me.  They are warm & cozy as well as fashionable, so who can argue with that?  I love this look from Pinterest with the purple tights, yellow skirt, and black top.  Not sure if I'm brave enough to wear it, but maybe- just maybe.

#4:  Boots & Booties
Last year I fell in love with the bootie, and I'm delighted to know they are still around.  I just bought these adorable booties from Target - the Verana - for $29!  Love.

If I had an unlimited budget, I'd buy both colors of these:

But since I don't (have an unlimited budget) I've got my eye on these:

#5:  Fall Candles
I have a small obsession with Slatkin candles from Bath & Body Works. Well, I have a large obsession with Bath and Body Works in general, but that's neither here nor there.  Anyway, when the three wick candles go on sale 2 for $20, I go into a candle ordering frenzy. They are quality, people - it's worth it. I just purchased my fall candles (2 for $20 sale, obviously) and I am enjoying them every day. My very favorite is "Autumn", but as soon as October hits, I'll be busting out "Sweet Cinnamon Pumpkin" as well.

#6:  Fall Leaves
I'm not sure I totally believe it, but I've heard tell that leaves actually CHANGE COLORS in the fall.  I know... crazy talk.  Still, I see pictures like these of the Duke Gardens on the Duke campus in the fall, and I can hardly wait.  If there's a pile of colorful leaves, I may jump into it.  Just saying.

What are you looking forward to this fall?


Sunday, September 11, 2011

Psalm 37

On this anniversary of 9/11, I wanted to share a Psalm that I read over and over in the weeks that followed 9/11 when I was a sophomore in college.  This Psalm was my lifeline in one of the most confusing weeks I've experienced.  It was the first time in my sheltered little life that I really, truly felt scared and in danger.  I saw and felt evil and wickedness, and I was tempted to despair or, more truthfully, "freak out".  In the years that have followed 9/11, we may have killed Bin Laden, but the evil hasn't gone away.  We are still living in a world racked with sin and wickedness, and this Psalm gives me hope that our God is still on his throne.  Our God still reigns.  He is VICTORIOUS and he is JUST.  We need only trust in him as our refuge.  It's a long Psalm, but I didn't want to leave out one word.  It's almost like God included this in his word to encourage us in these very moments:  "Do not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes.... The Lord laughs at the wicked, for he knows their day is coming."  The few minutes it will take to read it are worth it.  If you are feeling overwhelmed from all of the 9/11 media coverage today, maybe you need a minute to take a long, refreshing drink of God's love and glory. 

Psalm 37
Do not fret because of those who are evil
or be envious of those who do wrong;
for like the grass they will soon wither,
like green plants they will soon die away.

Trust in the LORD and do good;
dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
Take delight in the LORD,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Commit your way to the LORD;
trust in him and he will do this:
He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn,
your vindication like the noonday sun.

Be still before the LORD
and wait patiently for him;
do not fret when people succeed in their ways,
when they carry out their wicked schemes.

Refrain from anger and turn from wrath;
do not fret—it leads only to evil.
For those who are evil will be destroyed,
but those who hope in the LORD will inherit the land.

A little while, and the wicked will be no more;
though you look for them, they will not be found.
But the meek will inherit the land
and enjoy peace and prosperity.

The wicked plot against the righteous
and gnash their teeth at them;
but the Lord laughs at the wicked,
for he knows their day is coming.

The wicked draw the sword
and bend the bow
to bring down the poor and needy,
to slay those whose ways are upright.
But their swords will pierce their own hearts,
and their bows will be broken.

Better the little that the righteous have
than the wealth of many wicked;
for the power of the wicked will be broken,
but the LORD upholds the righteous.

The blameless spend their days under the LORD’s care,
and their inheritance will endure forever.
In times of disaster they will not wither;
in days of famine they will enjoy plenty.

But the wicked will perish:
Though the LORD’s enemies are like the flowers of the field,
they will be consumed, they will go up in smoke.

The wicked borrow and do not repay,
but the righteous give generously;
those the LORD blesses will inherit the land,
but those he curses will be destroyed.

The LORD makes firm the steps
of the one who delights in him;
though he may stumble, he will not fall,
for the LORD upholds him with his hand.

I was young and now I am old,
yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken
or their children begging bread.
They are always generous and lend freely;
their children will be a blessing.

Turn from evil and do good;
then you will dwell in the land forever.
For the LORD loves the just
and will not forsake his faithful ones.

Wrongdoers will be completely destroyed
the offspring of the wicked will perish.
The righteous will inherit the land
and dwell in it forever.

The mouths of the righteous utter wisdom,
and their tongues speak what is just.
The law of their God is in their hearts;
their feet do not slip.

The wicked lie in wait for the righteous,
intent on putting them to death;
but the LORD will not leave them in the power of the wicked
or let them be condemned when brought to trial.

Hope in the LORD
and keep his way.
He will exalt you to inherit the land;
when the wicked are destroyed, you will see it.

I have seen a wicked and ruthless man
flourishing like a luxuriant native tree,
but he soon passed away and was no more;
though I looked for him, he could not be found.

Consider the blameless, observe the upright;
a future awaits those who seek peace.
But all sinners will be destroyed;
there will be no future for the wicked.

The salvation of the righteous comes from the LORD;
he is their stronghold in time of trouble.
The LORD helps them and delivers them;
he delivers them from the wicked and saves them,
because they take refuge in him.

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