How to Have a Fabulous Girls Weekend: 2016 Edition

Oh, the utter joy and funity of Girls Weekend!!! I think the last time I used the word “funity” was my post about hosting Girls Weekend last year…

I put a lot of thought, planning, and long Pinterest-sessions into this Girls Weekend, but I still followed the principles I outlined last year. Except a little different. Because I’m a million years pregnant.

So, using those same guidelines from last year’s post, here’s how they played out this year:

1. decide on a theme based on something general or an overall feeling

This year, I didn’t have as themey of a theme as last year (aka “Pretty Comfy Coffee Togetherness” which I maintain is super articulate). And actually, the theme stemmed from the decor, which was really pretty simple. Simple but impactful. But I’ll get to that in a second.

Looking at the happy, bright colors of my decorations, I decided to paint a little illustration and then print it off as little cards for everyone, just as a fun way to make it special!

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“Colorful. Breathable. Fun.” Just a simple little watercolor piece on a half sheet of paper. Then I printed it on a half of a half sheet size… um, there’s probably an easier way to say that.

Decor 62. decorate with inexpensive yet WOW factor ideas

Ok, so just to remind you, these “guidelines” are borrowed directly from The Nester’s post about a girls weekend from several years ago… And my version of WOW factor = colorful poms.

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I actually had these left over from a baby shower I’d thrown with a friend back in February!

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Remember, last time I hung giant pink poms with those same white lanterns  and some tulle in the “entryway” of our apartment?

Pink Pom Entryway!

That was super fun, but that area is generally pretty dark, and I wanted these to hang somewhere they’d truly be seen and enjoyed. So, I tried taping them over the island, which I liked!

The rest of the decor came from the Target $1 Spot. Because obviously.

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The bunting, the colorful feather banner, and the polkadot straws came from the $1 Spot, and the mason jars and burlap runners were also left over from that baby shower. I love that feather banner! It’s definitely made of like, plastic, but you don’t know that unless you feel the feathers.

3. cook something I’ve made before and only cook for the first meal and also make a few things ahead of time

So, this was kind of true, insomuch as I really only made one or maybe two meals? And most of the time, it seemed like this year we were all sort of collaborating on each meal- again special thanks to Kara and Heather, who really ended up doing 80% (99%?) of all food preparations.

Waffles and Quiche

Mmmm, waffles. I mean, those waffles were epic, you guys. They made me think of this:

Breakfast Food Meme

Also, I made that Pioneer Woman cowboy quiche (except I basically included the good stuff from both the cowgirl and cowboy quiche recipes, like bacon + sausage + mushroom + onions + cheese, and left out artichokes. Oh, and I definitely used frozen pie crusts versus making my own).

Scones

Mmmm, scones.

4. say yes when someone offers help

When I listed this tip before, I claimed that I’d taken it and helped it become the greatest version of itself. Little did I know how much greater it could become… If you’re not following my metaphor, I’m saying that I asked for help. Like a LOT of help. Before, during, and kind of after… Because again, I’m a million years pregnant.

Kara's Journal

May I add that as a result of being a million years pregnant, this year I felt more like the beneficiary of gracious guests than a gracious hostess. (Thank you, gracious guests!!!)

5. enjoy the people when they are here and don’t worry about cleaning every part of the kitchen to perfection

Because being together is such a gift, who cares if the sink is full? And yet, we did have to clean up sometimes, because there was a lot of stuff occupying our island… Like amaaaazing bread, made by Kara.

Kara's Homemade Bread

 

6. Keep a loose hold on your agenda. Plans are good, but not when they hijack the fun(ity).

This group of girls includes some of the most kindred spirits I know! We don’t really need or want lots of activities to fill the time. We basically spend 75% of the time talking in our jammies, coffee and tea in hand.

However, we do love a good coffee place… So, we found one in a super quaint town close by! It was so rustic and beautiful, with Joanna-Gaines worthy chandeliers and an upstairs full of welcoming nooks and lovely light.

Kara captured some beautiful shots of our time, and I begged her to let me share them with you! (She graciously consented. Thank you, dahling!)

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(I make it a point to have only super-mega-beautiful friends.)

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(See? And back in college, people used to mistake me for this gorgeous girl. I’ve never been so pleased to be mistaken for someone. Although, it was pretty funny when I got engaged and people kept congratulating her…)

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Kara wanted to snap a maternity shot, and I love this one! I don’t really have many- or any- nice maternity photos, so I love that she thought of it. She’s so good!

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“And on the eighth day, God made coffee.” Amen.

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This mug is so photogenic.

Group pic

Aaand obligatory group couch picture. There seems to be a history of group couch pictures…

This is what's actually normal for us.

This is last year.

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…We’re missing one dear girl in this one, but it IS a group couch picture. (And documentation that I got Kara to wear red lipstick one time.)

This weekend is one of the most sleepless times of the year. And it’s 100% worth it!

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We feel so blessed to be able to get together like this every year. I think we figured out that this was our 9th year of our “road trip” slash Girls Weekend!

The guidelines have worked well for us, and I hope they might work for you, too!

 

Are you interested in a pretty, custom designed card or print for your own Girls Weekend or gathering of kindred spirits? Send me a message! Go to my etsy shop and let’s chat. Fyi, I’ll be taking custom orders through September 15th, then I’ll be taking a break- errr, having a baby.

Artist of the Month: Humilitea House {Everyday Arts by Kara Cline}

For February’s Artist of the Month, we are featuring Kara Cline of Humilitea House!!! This post has been a long time coming, and I’m so excited that Kara is sharing her heart with you today! I met Kara when I was a freshman in college and have counted her one of my dearest friends ever since. Almost immediately after meeting her, I experienced her decided spiritual gift of hospitality; even in our crumbly dorm rooms, hers always felt like someplace homey and peaceful, where there was always a cup of hot tea in your hand practically right after you set foot in the door.

Kara is multi-talented as a gifted photographer, potter, writer, painter, hand-letterer, and musician (and probably something else she hasn’t bothered to mention to me), with a deep and abiding love of Jesus and every person she meets (with whom she is immediately friends).

I can’t say enough about Kara’s generous and perceptive heart, nor her overflowing creativity, nor her gorgeous flowing locks of golden hair. (I mean, seriously people, no one has hair like hers…) So, I’ll just stop saying things and let her take over. I’m sure there’s enough hot tea or coffee- or both- here for you and enough good words for your soul, too. Enjoy.

windblown Kara

Hello fellow artist hearts and kindred spirits. Allow me to share a cup of coffee with you for a few moments, welcome you to my kitchen table as the snowflakes swirl outside, and be vulnerable with you.  I want to share something I struggle with every day.  You see, I’ve been procrastinating. Procrastinating to write this blog post, and, really, to create in general… because I’m afraid.

green vine

If I take a long hard look, I’m really astonished at how fear has managed to snake it’s way into my heart.  Entwining it’s coils around every beautiful young plant that God has intended for good and for strength. It suffocates delicate shoots before they even press all the way through the soil, and chokes the light out of things that my Creator desires to use to help bring about wholeness and healing in this broken world.

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As an artist I look at the tangled mess in my spirit and a voice slithers out and says that I am alone in this. The voice mocks and claims that God cannot use anything that comes from these two hands.  The voice reasons that I am ugly through and through, and that no beauty can come from such a jumble of insecurities and half-hearted attempts at creating.

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But, dear children of the Living God, I say this to myself as much as to you. That voice is a liar.

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Christ has rescued me from the power of sin and death. Through His blood He has transformed me from a charred sinner into His holy and beautiful daughter. He has completely changed my life! Why, why, WHY then do I insist on viewing His gift of creativity in my life as a filthy rag?  Why am I ashamed of it, holding it at arms length and desperately searching for a place to hide it lest people discover I’m a fraud?  Why am I terrified of practice and of falling down? Why am I so prideful that I allow fear to keep me from sharing such gifts?  Why do I say they aren’t good enough?

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I’m rejecting His gifts and I’m making the Holy Spirit heartsick.

Friends, even though that deceptive voice keeps telling me that I’m alone, I know that I’m not. Once you dig through the surface, so many of us artists struggle with the exact same thing, but we’re fighting a battle that has already been won on our behalf.

“… for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” – 2 Timothy 1:7

“ Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” – Joshua 1:9

For so long I have let this fear and procrastination prevent the use of so many blessings. I can make excuses and put off sitting down to my pottery wheel, picking up my camera, or pressing my piano keys, and I usually do. I envision myself in an imaginary future where I am suddenly adept at all of those skills, or I look through my Instagram feed and fuel the consuming fire of comparison until I am immobilized. The real tragedy of this though, is that my days on this earth are passing more quickly each year, and I am wasting the precious time that my Father has given me.  It may sound dramatic, but it is nonetheless true.  We are eternal beings, yes, but our time in this world is not infinite.

Lucy

How can we let such gifts stagnate when this globe is crying out for hope and purpose? It is no coincidence that the favorite tools of the enemy against creatives are fear and discouragement.  The liar wants to keep us deceived.  We have been blessed with creative voices.  They are voices that are meant to be used, and used right now.  Yes, we will create countless things that are far from perfection, but our God is a God who takes broken things and makes them beautiful.

Psalm 139 14

 

So please, be encouraged from someone who is still fighting those lies.  Whether your gifts are music, sculpting, homemaking, writing, painting, conversation, or a myriad of other combinations, don’t listen to the deception anymore that you have no place in the world as an artist.  Turn your attention to the one who gave you such wonderful gifts…and pour out.

gnarledtreePour out to the One who has made you, dear friends.  Pour out healing beauty on this fractured earth, and be not afraid.

watercolor pottery

 

I’m so thankful for Kara stopping by to share these vulnerable thoughts that so often plague us as artist, and for sharing a sampling of her beautiful photography with us!!!  (Remember back in October when she did our family photos? She captured us so perfectly!) You can see more of her photography here. Coming soon is her Etsy shop of her gorgeous, rustic ceramic creations! I’ll be sure to share the link with you all as soon as it’s up.

 

Day 30: Fall Family Photos

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Family photos. They’re just one of those things… You know? Those things people do. Those small luxuries we cherish in the name of family. (And I do mean family photos in the professional sense.)

But it’s not a luxury we’d enjoyed before. We were able to get a jump drive of some lovely, precious, dear photos of Lucy the day after she was born (because be still my heart! even though the jump drive itself was overpriced, the pictures themselves are priceless to me). However, we never had pictures taken of us as a family (we reminisced this past weekend about our lack of engagement photos)… Until now!

When we were down at Milligan last weekend, we stayed with my beautiful, dear, talented friend Kara, whom you at least know a little bit by now, if you’ve been around here awhile. While we were there, I begged of her a short session to- finally- take some family photos in the fall gorgeousness of East Tennessee.
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I love how Kara’s photographs reveal her unique style- her mysterious and magical gift of capturing the beauty (both hidden and in plain sight) of a moment.

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These ones… oh, my heart!

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Of course, a quick shot in front of The Coffee Company, because of what I mentioned earlier this week.

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And she got this one of me, messing with my hair and being distracted by the leaves on the ground… So, you know, my default. (And I told you I loved that dress didn’t I?)

discovery

One reason why this was so fun was watching Lucy discover leaves (or “leaf” I should say, since she mostly just carried that specific one around the whole time) and pine cones and trees… And then catching those moments on camera! Ah- so wonderful.

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walking

Lucy Light

Oh, and this. This is my Lucy. Her name means “light.” Can’t you just see it glowing from inside her here?? (Sheesh. That picture alone would’ve been worth the whole session, even if all the others somehow turned out terrible! Which of course they wouldn’t have, but I’m just saying…)

These are just a few of the moments Kara caught up in her lens. She has good eyes, if you know what I mean.

And I know sometimes looking at somebody else’s family photos leaves me feeling like their life is somehow perfect and there’s this weird jealousy thing that happens (to me, at least). So, even though I can’t imagine you’d feel this way looking at mine (we weren’t even in perfectly coordinating outfits, you guys), I encourage you that these photos were just one more way to savor and enjoy this moment- this season- in which we are living. Your season is just as beautiful, just as important.

I hope these beauties, these holy gifts framed between four walls encourage you to see that in your own life, too.

You can find more info about Kara at her website here.

Day 6: Laziness vs. Leisure

31 days of Enjoy squareLeisure is an important part of enjoyment. But sometimes, leisure gets a bad rap. Because we’re human and imperfect, and that often translates to taking something like leisure and turning it into laziness.

I struggle with this like any person does. Remember back when I wrote about how Netflix plays an important role in marriage? Well, obviously there was a degree of the facetious in that post, along with the serious (as is common here). And I confess, sometimes, binge-watching stuff on Netflix renders me incapacitated, and the thought of getting up off the couch to get more cookies seems as daunting as climbing Mt. Everest.

Kara Faith Photography- Golden Moment

That’s how laziness ruins leisure. There’s nothing evil about leisure in and of itself. But laziness? It renders me whiny and self-absorbed in a matter of a few pajama-clad, cookie-filled hours. At that point, am I really enjoying anything?

In those moments, maybe what I really need is some intentional enjoyment. That’s just another reason I love fall; I find myself doing specific things like going to covered bridge festivals, showing colorful leaves to my daughter, buying pumpkins (after laboriously looking for the one with the most character- aka warts and such), etc. And it’s not even that those activities are somehow better than watching Netflix.

Kara Faith Photography Fall Tree

It’s just the searching and seeing that takes place when I experience those things.

Kara Faith Photography

I develop an awareness of beauty; I tune my heart to the blessings of a moment. And even though fall comes every year, the awareness still- always- brings me delight.

Kara Faith Photography- The Rustic Apple

It’s a holy enjoyment.

So, with that said, may your leisure lift you up this season. May you become more aware of the unearthly beauty that graces the earth so generously with itself. Breath it in deep. Enjoy… whether you find yourself pajama-clad and cookie-filled, or wandering through a pumpkin patch.

Kara Faith Photography- Autumn Leaves

Today’s glorious pictures are brought to you by Kara Faith Photography!