Thursday, November 24, 2011

Black Friday / Cyber Monday Sale

Wishing everyone a Happy Thanksgiving!!  To express our thankfulness for the wonderful support of our shop, we're have a Black Friday / Cyber Monday Sale at Natural esSCENTials!! 20% off beginning 11:59pm on Nov. 24th thru 28th. Make sure to use coupon code Thankful20 for the savings!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Encouragement from my Grandmother

My Grandmother Shaw was and still is my heart. She had the gift of great compassion and the uncanny ability to lighten the energy in a room with her very presence. The lessons she offered in love greatly impacted my soul as I watched her choose to see the heart of people no matter how she was being treated. Grandmother embraced life with gusto and could laugh with a passion unlike any I've ever seen!! Oh...and she was an encourager.  She wanted to hear your dreams as well as your heartaches and would stand with you in the middle of wherever you just might be.  She passed away on Christmas Eve of 2008, but her presence is still felt to this day.

I recently posted on Facebook about "Goliath Moments"...times that bring you face to face with a mountain that seems so ominous you’re tempted to shudder.  Mountains are scary, they're big and usually cause a problem for those of us who love unobstructed views of life (:  Mountains define our courage and show us of what we're made.  It's so important that, when you come upon one of these pathway changers, you shake off that fear, stand tall, talk to your mountain so it moves and press forward on the journey.

We've been going through some of those Goliath Moments lately.  And so it was no surprise when during our move, I "just happened" to come across a few of Grandmother's poetry books.  In one of these books I found a few carefully placed post-it notes tagging special poems for later reading. One of the poems hit on the exact topic we were discussing the night before as we continued to pack and move things about. The inspiration was in perfect timing and so greatly needed that day. In true fashion, in her own special way, Grandmother had given an encouraging nudge of hope from heaven to let us know that she was standing with us. Notice the mention of moving mountains...

"Climb 'Til Your Dreams Come True" by Helen Steiner Rice

Often your tasks will be many,
And more than you think you can do...
Often the road will be rugged
and the hills insurmountable, too...
But always remember,the hills ahead
Are never as steep as they seem,
And with Faith in your heart upward,
And climb 'til you reach your dream,
For nothing in life that is worthy
Is ever too hard to achieve
If you have the courage to try it
And you have the Faith to believe...
For Faith is a force that is greater
Than knowledge or power or skill
And many defeats turn to triumph
If you trust in God's wisdom and will...
For Faith is a mover of mountains,
There's nothing that God cannot do,
So start your today with Faith with in your heart
And "Climb 'Til Your Dreams Come True!"

"...If thou can believe, all things are possible to him that believes"
~ Mark 9:23

Thank you, Grandmother, for your encouragement and love (:

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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

To Declutter or Repurpose...That is the Question

Yesterday we talked about the 3 Question Rule to decluttering...
  • Do I really love it? (is it a treasure)
  • Do I really use it? (has it been used within the last year)
  • Do I really need it? (sometimes we think we need something when we really don't)
I have a storage unit for Christmas decor since we have very little closet space in the apartment...who knew Christmas trees could take up so much space! During the spring clean this year I decided to revisit the 3 Question Rule regarding everything in storage. It's a small unit, but has accumulated goodies other than holiday dé of them being my vintage iron day bed from childhood. It's been loved, cherished and used by other family members, but was now reduced to leaning against walls in the corner of my storage room.

I love this bed. It brings back memories, has a classic style that lasts, is highly functional and very versatile. I was hoping to utilize it upon a move into my own home, but don't really know when that will be. So there sits my sad, lonely bed with it's matching trundle just desperately waiting to be the focal point in a pretty space again.

Day beds are a fave on my list for their versatility, which is why I was having such a hard time parting with it. During the day they serve as seating and then transform into comfy sleeping quarters in the eve. This particular bed has a trundle which offers the option of turning the single sleeping digs into something fit for two. Put them together and it magically becomes a queen size bed. Who doesn’t love the simplicity of a day bed...{sigh}

After going over the questions in my head yet again, I realized it was silly to hang on to something that "might be used one day" when someone else could make use of it right now.  So I brought Mindy (yes, that's her name) out of storage and decided it was time to let her go, but she needed a spruce up.  Coats of black were used to hide the dated style of white and brass and she was graciously staged in our dining room so others could see the beautiful potential of this fine lady (: 

Cushions from our sofa showed the day time option, while a simple "bed time pose" displayed her evening attire.  Please forgive the not-so-attractive pseudo mattress.  We didn't have a twin and the sofa cushions were more than willing to provide a nice stand-in (:  Mindy quickly sold on Craigslist and is now in a happy home giving much love and joy to weary little ones who rest upon her beautiful frame.  Even though I miss her, I so loved the transformation we went through together...I was able to let go of stuff and she became the beauty queen I always knew she could be (:

So if you have items in storage, give the 3 Question Rule another shot.  If there's something you truly can't part with, transform the old into new with a coat of paint and some elbow grease.  Are there any items you haven't been able to release and decided to repurpose?  I'd love to hear about it (:

In Gratitude,

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Monday, July 25, 2011

Organizing, Purging and Those Hoarding Shows

With our upcoming move in just a couple of weeks, the simplifying process we've been through these last few months seems part of a grand design (: When Mom, Grandmother and I moved in together years ago (so we could provide the care Grandmother needed) we had three households and three generations of strong opinions moving into one space. Needless to say we learned a lot about compromise and the art of purging (:

I've always been a clutterbug and a piler. If I can't see it, I don't know it's there (: I love neat spaces and thrive in them, but it has to be a visually pleasing one that offers function and style with easy access to see needed items at a moment's notice. It's the creative spirit in me...seeing inspires. Since we'll be moving everything into storage while formalizing a plan for our new digs, I'm ready to get rid of the last few nonessential items to make the process easier.

Over the years I've been able to hone a system that works for me and stop by one of those hoarding shows now and then to keep myself in check (: For some reason just a few minutes into one episode and I'm ready to clean and toss!! I like to purge twice a year and sometimes more if there's a specific project. I ask myself three questions...
  • Do I really love it? (is it a treasure)
  • Do I really use it? (has it been used within the last year)
  • Do I really need it? (sometimes we think we need something when we really don't)
If the items in question don't fall into any of those three categories, then out the door they go! Charity is the first stop and then Craigslist has been wonderful! So many items that have been hiding in closets are making their way into the light to be sold and nurtured in the homes of others...and making a few extra dollars is a nice little incentive too (:

My great uncle and aunt held tight to the three question philosophy and the "1-in-1-out rule" to create a home that was the model of order. It was a small space, but seemed expansive by the sheer tidiness of it all. Twice a year (spring and fall) they would go through their things to see what would stay and what would go. No room for clutter here (:

The spring sweep brought out cooler seasonal clothing, decor and linens and the fall sweep introduced warmer items with the inclusion of a toy sort to prepare for goodies that Santa would bring at Christmas. The 1-in-1-out rule is a great way to train children in the area of giving and thankfulness. To make space for new toys, others must be donated and usually it was the favorite toy that was given (:

I like's being a good steward of what you have, keeping the space open to receive and honoring the rhythm of the seasons at the same time.  The more I embrace this philosophy, the more I enjoy it - and that's no small feat coming from this former clutterbug (:

So, what's your process for keeping things organized? How do you keep a tight ship or prepare for a big move?

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Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Curveballs of Life

curve•ball  /’kərv,bôl/
Noun: A ball that is pitched with a snap of the wrist and a strong downward spin, which causes the ball to drop suddenly and deceptively veer away from home plate.

That last part of the definition is most interesting to me...”a downward spin which causes the ball to suddenly and deceptively veer away from home plate.” You think life is headed in one direction and then with the snap of change you suddenly feel like you’re veering away from home.'s a little bit of a double edged sword for me. On the one hand I find change exciting. A new challenging adventure on the horizon of life just waiting to burst forth with amazing possibilities. But then at the same time I don't like it, sometimes dread it and just downright don't want it to happen. Yes. I'm a complex kinda gal (:

We've had lots of change over the last few years and honestly, sometimes that feeling of giving up just wants to take over. Change in relationships, change in work, the passing of loved ones, a change in life focus, a week ago the passing of my beloved dachshund Reba at the ripe old age of 19 and now an unexpected move in the next couple of weeks for which we are financially unprepared. My, my, my...

Change...yuck. But instead of focusing on the yucky side of this coin, I’ve decided to flip it over and look on these moments in life like surprise enter the room startled and bewildered, scream your guts out in horror and then once you realize your life isn't in jeopardy (: you acclimate and party on!

The whole essence of life is about change isn't it? Things grow in the spring and wither away in the winter...a cycle that must happen for new growth to come back the following season. Nothing really stays the same, other than an awe inspiring heavenly Father who gently carries us when we experience these curveballs of life. It's up to us to let go and enjoy the ride instead of fighting against the currents.

And so I’m embracing this new phase as an adventure...a magical curveball adventure of soul changing elation. I don't know where we're going, don't know how we're going to get there, nor do I know how we are going to financially pull this off, but I do know that God already has a plan in action and is lovingly guiding our steps (:

So, when you experience those curveballs of life, what advice do you have for those who are going through it right now? What gets you through? What focus propels you forward? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

“You are close beside me, guarding, guiding all the way.” ~ Psalm 23:4

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Monday, May 9, 2011

Simplifying At Its Best

Well guys...the break is over!!  I'm back and can't wait to get started (:  Two months ago I posted about taking Tara Gentile's Art of Action course.  Those six weeks were the training ground for a more focused and balanced "me."  I discovered that I was trying to fit into the mold of others and this course allowed me to take off the blinders to see how to honor my own rhythm.  Tara's course helped me dig deep, push back the layers and discover that I’m a big beautiful mess and that’s okay (:

I learned the art of embracing action and was able to simplify all the many tasks that had been sitting on my perpetual to-do list for years.  The guidance Tara offered showed me how to break down those seemingly insurmountable mountains of unfinished projects into bite sized nuggets of movement. 

We've talked here before about being stuck and how that can cause you to set up camp in a space that isn't meant to be your home.  That's what I did.  I set up camp, moved in, brought the china, painted the walls and then wondered why I wasn't moving toward my dreams and goals.  I wasn’t embracing what felt right and doubted that inner voice of guidance. 

If this sounds familiar, then you've got to take Tara's course!!  Stop by and check it'll be so glad you did (:  The course starts May 17th so there's still plenty of time to register.  Whether you're a creative who needs to get back on task to set new goals for your business, an artist who is looking for strength in community and collaboration, or a writer who is just trying to find your own personal, evolving balance then this course is for you!! 

As a result of this new found focus, you'll begin to notice a few changes on this site in the upcoming weeks.  I'm working on a detailed list of services which includes simplifying/designing a home haven, services for designing a simple yet elegant DIY wedding in 3 months or less, custom jewelry design, organizational tools and more.

I'll be sharing more info on the products we make and sell from our Homesteading Apartment and will also have a detailed list of resources to help you on your own homesteading journey.

Tutorials of favorite DIY projects will be an added new feature and I'll be sharing info on our upcoming ebooks that will be released in the next couple of months.

So many things that have been in the works for the last year are finally making it into the light (:  I can't wait to share the progress each day as things move forward.  Thank you so much for hanging in there with me as we transition into the new phase of our Homesteading Apartment.

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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Spring is Here - Spring Cleaning Time!!

Spring is here and we know what that means...Spring cleaning! I’m as opposed to the whole cleaning scene as the next busy gal, but there are some things that just need to be done. The clothes can only pile so high before you actually have to wash them (:

Over the years my clutter bug ways became a challenge, so I was on a mission to develop some sort of system or checklist to keep me focused in a natural, no stress way.  For many years I lived the way so many others do today...whatever's flying around in front of me gets the most attention.  That's okay for a little while, but it's no way to create a planned and prepared life. 

I had no idea how to clean.  Don't get me wrong...I had the cleaning skills down pat, but there was no rhyme or reason for the process which meant there was ALWAYS tons to do.  Then I'd get overwhelmed and only clean when someone was coming over (I see you smiling over there.  You know exactly what I'm talking about, eh?).  I'm a list maker.  If I write it down it gets done, so checklists seemed to be the answer!

I decided to get back to basics and clean the way my Grandmother and Mother did...little by little with a few steps each day.  I started by making lists of daily chores, then weekly with bi-weekly and monthly tasks quickly following.  I found a flow to my style.  Soon things came together and made sense. 

The lists were kept in a prominate spot so, as each job was completed, a lovely little check would appear - done! For some reason there was something so gratifying about a fully checked list. With each completed task, it beckoned other tasks to follow (:

Now cleaning isn't such a chore and actually brings peace and contentment.  Simplicity really is the key (:  Try making a list of your own.   Print those puppies out and keep them in a spot where you can't miss them.  Make sure to separate the duties - Daily, Weekly and Monthly.  I started with daily tasks only and then when those became a habit I added another list. 

I love the idea of placing them inside frames and using a whiteboard marker to check off the tasks as they're done.  The frames above were only $1 each (don't you love The Dollar Store) and look more like organized mini whiteboards than simple lists.  Match them to your design style and make them fun!!

If you aren't sure where to start in creating your own lists, we're offering our Cleaning Simplicity Printables which include Indoor and Outdoor Spring Cleaning Checklists just in time for the season!  When you purchase our downloads, print as many as you like.  Pop them into frames to use them over and over again, add them to your homekeeping notebook or simply hang them on the fridge.  By following the lists and doing a little at a time, you'll never be overwhelmed by cleaning again!

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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Art of Action - A Step Forward

I mentioned yesterday that I'm participating in The Art of Action workshop developed by Tara Gentile of Scoutie Girl and the opportunity to join with other creatives as we move from aspiration to actualization to accomplishment is unbelievable!!   "If you struggle to put what you learn into practice, if you have the best of intentions and none of the follow through, this program will help you change that. It’s all about execution: the mind set, the step by step, and the outcome."

I have tons of ideas, so many plans and notebooks full of designs, but I was stuck in survival mode.  We all have those times when we get to a certain spot and just can't push forward, but if we aren't careful we can set up shop and live there without even realizing it.  That's what happened to me. maybe you're having the same experience.  You're stuck and now you want to move out of that stuck place, but have no idea how or where to move next!  That's exactly what The Art of Action is designed to do.  This 6 week program will offer guidance in creating a prioritized, step-by-step plan to reach your goals and move you from Stuck to Action!

I can't believe how the last couple of days have changed my focus!!  I've already set up a Goal Framework, completed three action tasks from yesterday and today and now have a clearer focus on where I want to go. 

So if you're feeling stuck, stop by and check out The Art of Action.  We've just started and I believe you can still sign up!  I'd love to see you there (:

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Tuesday, March 8, 2011

A Time of Silence and A New Day Dawning

Silence has been a blessing over these last few months. It's been an opportunity to commune with my God, my spirit and my voice. It's interesting.  When we strip away the expectations of others, we are left with the true essence of who we were created to be. How many of us try to be what others need so much that we lose that sacred connection with our own heart? Sometimes when we're in the throws of helping others with their pain, we neglect to acknowledge the pain we may be in ourselves.

Most of my last 14 years have been surrounded by caring for someone who was ill. Within the span of 3 years my father, both grandmothers and the family cat passed away. During this same time my mother was so ill that we almost lost her as well. Because I was in survival mode, I didn't take the time to deal with the crushing weight of loss.  Day by day this loss, unbeknownst to me, was settling in my soul. Taking time to process the experience is the last thing on your mind when you're just trying to make it through each day.  Those emotions, whether you realize it or not, have to go somewhere.

It's not that I didn't process and accept the passing of those I loved, but my heart had not been able to release the sheer exhaustion of those years. Death had taken up residence in the walls of my home, but I had no idea it was there. I began to feel very resentful towards those who found it easy to be conveniently unavailable. With no other help or assistance, loneliness became an ever present force that could not be shaken.

I had no idea how strong this force had become. Dreams, ideas and passions were there, but I couldn't seem to progress beyond the middle stage. Sometimes a venture would actually begin to flourish and for some reason I would let go. Family and friends would ask how business was going and my comment was usually, "It's projects are in the works!"

Sigh...and how true that was. There was ALWAYS a new idea, a new design, but following through to the very end had me baffled! I couldn't seem to put all of the heart and passion into action. My blog started off on a great note, but soon the momentum faded and with it my "voice."  It's a pretty miserable place to be. You have all of this head knowledge, but it's not connecting with your heart because your heart is blocked by pain.

Then a few weeks ago I was confronted with the sadness in my soul. I wanted to know why I was having such a challenge moving forward. And so I prayed...and prayed....and prayed. Much of my time was spent in silence just listening and waiting. Then one day it was as if God released a dam that had blocked all of those tears from these last many years!!! I cried like I had never cried know, one of those ugly cries that you just can't stop. A very attractive moment (:

Within the span of a few minutes all of the pent up emotions from my father's death, my grandmothers' deaths, the fear of my mother's passing, the pain of isolation that caregiving can bring, the loneliness that creeps in when no one really understands what you're going through...everything was felt all at once! All at once!! And then it was gone!! My time of silence was over. The burdensome weight was lifted and it was replaced with peace. I felt like me again.

At this same time relationships were beginning to fall away and break apart...relationships that I didn't want to let go. People I loved and in whom I invested time suddenly became vengeful and downright mean. I didn't recognize them anymore...or was it that I was looking through the glasses of need and expectation for this long?

I was so busy helping and being all available in these relationships that I couldn't see I had neglected to set up boundaries. Where there are no boundaries, there is little respect...and so I let go, shaking the dust from my feet. Peace immediately followed yet again.

New relationships started coming out of the woodwork! A cousin I now consider a sister became a new best friend, online relationships began to flourish, mentors and those offering guidance seemed to appear on a daily basis! I was open to myself and therefore others were open to me (: I joined a writers group which led to participating in our local Luncheon Literary Society and met the most creative, supportive and positive people! These ladies are so fun and you can't help but be encouraged around them (:

Most recently I've had the honor of being able to participate in The Art of Action workshop developed by Tara Gentile of Scoutie Girl. It's "designed to be a professional kick in the pants, a constant reminder that what you have is enough and an affirmation of your ability to do what needs to be done." I'll talk more about this amazing opportunity tomorrow!!

So, in a nut shell...I'm free and ready to face new challenges ahead. It's all about being patient with yourself, waiting expectantly and having a willing heart. So if you find yourself in that stuck place and your dreams aren't quite happening, don't give up, look within, embrace your heart and reach out to others. You don't have to feel alone in this process. It can be messy, heart wrenching and you may go into that "ugly cry mode" once in a while, but it's well worth the runny mascara (:

"But these things I plan won't happen right away. Slowly, steadily, surely, the time approaches when the vision will be fulfilled. If it seems slow, do not despair, for these things will surely come to pass. Just be patient! They will not be overdue a single day!" ~ Habakkuk 2:3

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Monday, February 21, 2011

Featured on Minus Colour

Last week a few of my Natural esSCENTials items were included in the Simplicity Sunday feature by Emily from Minus Colour.  Each Sunday she brings to light shops that have simplicity at the core.  I was honored to have my magnetic chalkboard tins and chalkboard labels in the spotlight (: 
She also has a lovely shop filled with planners, note cards and custom invitations.  If you enjoy the simple elegance of black and white then you have to visit Minus Colour

Below are a few of my faves...

So if you have a chance, stop by Minus Colour and take in the elegance of simplicity (:

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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Year of Expectations

Oh my goodness!  I can't believe this is officially The Homesteading Apartment's one year anniversary!  It seems as if it was just yesterday that the summer sun was beating down and I was waiting for the cold weather to come.  Then the next thing I knew Christmas was here and now we're approaching Valentine's Day!!

The last year has been one of learning, growth and tons of faith stretching (:  I'm a very impatient gal and when I see a vision I tend to want things to change NOW.  A season of waiting isn't something that has been cherished in the past, but this last year has given me a greater appreciation for these desert times.  In the desert thankfulness and gratitude abound.  The little things are reflected in a different light...a light that grows faith and you begin to see God working more clearly. 

So this year I declare it to be The Year of Expectations.  I expect the miracles to come...I expect my life to change...I expect my dreams to come true and I expect to see God work in amazing ways.  In the past I've been afraid to expect great things because I didn't want to be disappointed.  Now I'm beginning to realize that expectation allows openness and possibilities to flourish.  So as I wait with great expectation, I am content and thankful.

My first step in doing this is to launch a couple of online shops.  Several years ago I opened a brick and mortar store, but never really took things online fully.  This year is the year to make it happen and so I'm introducing Natural esSCENTials and Little esSCENTials.  Both shops will grow as more things are added.  If you have a chance I hope you stop by.

So what is your focus for this year of 2011?  Are you in a season of waiting?  In what ways are you stretching your faith muscle and how are you faring along the way?

"But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run and not be weary and they shall walk and not faint."  ~ Isaiah 40:31

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