Lottie Leather Give-Away // leather bags that support artisans in Nepal

Saturday, March 28


To cap off my week reminiscing about Nepal on my IG, I wanted to share with you about a way my sister-in-law and I have worked to support artisans in Nepal!

Did you know that Nepal is one of the poorest countries in the world?
When we lived there, the electricity was only on during certain hours of the day, which deterred businesses to invest in business in Nepal.

Did you know that 25% of the country's GDP is remittance? (meaning money being sent back into Nepal from Nepalese workers in countries abroad)
 So many families cannot support themselves with jobs in Nepal, so generally the men decide to go to countries in the Middle East or Korea to find jobs and then send money home to families. This means thousands of families are growing up without their father's present. It breaks my heart.

So...in 2018, Kevin and I, and my sister in law Kristi and her husband Jeff decided to start supporting local artisans in Nepal. Kristi and Jeff were living in Nepal at this time (while Jeff was getting his PhD work done), so Kristi was able to visit different leather craftsmen around Kathmandu and Pokhara.

Kristi and I designed the bags and then hired skilled craftsmen (and women) to make our products. We've definitely had some trial and error, but we now have products that we are so proud of!

Today I wanted to give away 2 Lottie Leather bags! 
If you win, you get to pick which bag you want!! 

I use the Lyla and Harper bags every day, and they are amazing!!! The Lyla I use as a diaper bag, and the Harper I use as a purse when I run errands or go to work! The leather is amazing, thick and sturdy and a beautiful toffee color!

Here's how to enter:
- Follow @lottieleather on IG
- Follow me @hope_engaged on IG
- Comment with which bag you love
- Tag 3 friends who may love a Lottie Leather bag!!

(If you don't have Instagram, feel free to comment here on the blog with which bag you would like!)

We would love for you to keep Lottie Leather in mind for the future, as every bag purchased supports an artisan family in great ways!!

Feel free to check out the website to see all the bags at www.lottieleather.com

Happy Weekend dear ones!!! 2019-08-21_0008.jpg2019-08-21_0032.jpg

How covid-19 is affecting Nepal- an interview

Friday, March 27

Never in my lifetime has the entire world been up against the same obstacle at the same time. Corona virus is on everyone's minds and is drastically shifting our daily life no matter if you live in San Francisco, Lisbon, Sydney, Jakarta or Timbuktu.

In an effort to make the world smaller and bring us together as friends and neighbors, I am excited to start a series where I interview people from all different countries about how they are experiencing this situation! 

Today, I am interviewing Ashleigh Matto who has lived in Kathmandu Nepal for the last 5 years with her Finnish husband and their three kiddos.....

1) Where do you currently live and what brought you there?

We live in Kathmandu, Nepal. We are here working with a faith based INGO and working in the development sector. We have projects in many parts of Nepal working in the areas of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH). We are also working in education. And we work in livelihood, which is helping people see the opportunities to create livings. We moved here in 2015 after the earthquake.

2) What do you love most about where you live?

This is a hard question to answer. We have lived in Kathmandu for 5 years and the first two and a half years were really hard. If you would have asked me then, I would have answered with half a smile and told you that I thought the mountains were beautiful or something vague like that. But God matures us and that’s when change in our mind happens. Today I can honestly say, ‘Yes, I love the mountains and the nature that Nepal has. And I love the people who are beautiful and hospitable and so different from myself.’ But what I love most…is such a small thing….I will try to explain. Nepal drinks tea…chiya to be exact. There are small (think small) tea shops everywhere and …this is what I love….the shop keeper will carry a few cups of tea across the street to the neighbor shop. And that’s what I love.

3) How has your city and country been affected by Covid-19?

Its March 26 and as of now, Nepal has been hit only barely by Covid-19. But the feeling is that it’s the calm before the storm. We are a country sandwiched in between India and China. How can it be that there are only 3 known cases so far? But on March 24, the country made the decision to lockdown. We have joined the world and are waving to our neighbor from rooftops and balconies asking and hoping that all are healthy.

Nepal is a social country. I mean, who isn’t? But this country thrives in community, in ‘village’. Social distancing will be hard and I’m sure there will be resistance after we are in lockdown for longer.

4) How have you personally be affected?

We are in lockdown. Both my husband and I are trying to work and homeschool our three kids (8,6, and 4). It takes a lot of energy as so many families are experiencing right now. It’s funny how you can be home all day and still go to bed exhausted. But personally speaking, the daily change of events has had an effect on me. Just last night, I went to bed and my heart was racing. Anticipating what ‘new’ tomorrow would bring. The big questions of ‘are we going to leave?’ or ‘what happens when it gets worse here?’ are things I wish someone else would answer for me. There just seems to be a lot of question marks right now and the unknown is hard to put your foot into.

But I’m also really thankful. It’s given us time to work on the kinks we have in my own life and in our family. We have to address them, right? You grow patient in situations where you can choose to be patient. And joy…it’s the same, right? Lockdown is going to be a good place to grow some fruits of the Spirit!

5) How have you seen God work in the midst of this time?

I have seen how my friends, who don’t live in relationship with the Author of Peace, worry and allow fear to take over. But Im sure thankful for the truth that Jesus is with us and knows clearly the whole picture and it doesn’t scare Him at all. We can trust Him. I have seen that (besides last night when my heart was racing, ha) I have had another level of ‘ok-ness’ in this upside-down time and it can only be explained in Jesus.

6) Any last things you want to share?

I love what Mother Teresa has said, “God has called us not to be successful, but to be faithful.”

This time is tough and uncomfortable. But sometimes we aren’t called into amazing, successful, beautiful, pointed at your giftings things. But we are called to love Jesus and love the people around us anywhere. We are called to be faithful to that.

So beautiful Ashleigh, thank you so much for sharing! 

Friends, I hope this gives you a little glimpse into what people are experiencing in Nepal!! Please leave any encouragement and love for Ashleigh:)  I will be sharing more interviews from around the world and I hope you'll join me for them:) We have the beautiful capacity to love and encourage and pray for others, so let's press into that in this season! 

Have a great weekend, and if you're on IG, come follow me @hope_engaged where I will be sharing lots of pictures from our travels, as well as travel itineraries in my stories!! 

Also...be looking for a super fun give-away soon!! Can't wait to share with you!! xoxo 

I'm starting a new travel series and I need YOUR help!!

Monday, March 23

I am so so excited!! 
{can you tell?? eekkkk!!}
Here's why...for 4 years I poured my heart and soul into sharing my travels with you via this blog! 
And then I sadly walked away (you can read more about that here) 

But...I have been thinking and praying and leaning into an idea to start sharing my travels again in a fun and interactive way:) 

Now....You might be looking at me all skeptical thinking...why are you sharing your travels? you know we can't go anywhere right now, RIGHT? haha, boy do I know that! We have been sheltering in place like it's our job (cause it kinda is ALL our jobs right now!)...and you're right... none of us should be going anywhere, except maybe to play outside in our yards or to the grocery store. 

But, we will not be confined forever. I have so much hope that one day this will end. And when it does, we will be able to connect with the rest of the world on a physical level. 

But for now...my heart and prayer is to share the beauty of the world with all of you as I have experienced it. God has gifted me with tremendous opportunity in my life to engage with over 40 countries...meeting people who have inspired me to become the person I am and encouraging me to love and serve God in a deeper way. 

In South Africa my perspective of worship was enlarged as I praised Jesus in a drum circle and danced for the Lord like I had never danced before. 

In Sweden I saw my Swedish family come around me with the most incredible hospitality I've ever experienced...cooking every meal (to meet my allergies), giving us personal tours of the country, and laughing and singing and opening their hearts to us. 

In Thailand I saw the church be feet on the ground, as I lived in a refugee camp on the border of Thailand and Burma. I saw a pastor there love on the refugees and provide many services to them because he knew it was what Jesus was calling him to do. 

In Turkey I saw the gospel go forth in powerful ways, transforming lives that were once held in bondage and step into an incredible light. 

And the list goes on and on and on....God does amazing things around the world, and I love being part of it! 

 So....here's my idea...

Each week I plan to pick a new country and share pictures and itineraries...and then at the end of the week interview someone who lives in that country and discuss how they are experiencing covid-19 in their own country. 

My deepest desire is that we as the church could come around that person interviewed, and love on them and pray for them! How cool would that be if each week we are engaging with someone from a new country than ours, and sending our thoughts and prayers to them via this blog or IG!!! 

So...here's what I would love your help with. If you know someone that lives in one of the following countries (or if YOU live in one of these countries), please email me. I would love to interview and feature you on this blog & IG! 

Thailand - Cambodia - Vietnam - Ecuador - Columbia - Greece - Turkey - Nepal - India - England - Tahiti - Haiti - Switzerland - France - (there are more, but we'll start with these:) 

I would also love for you to spread the word on IG so we can get more and more people to engage together from all different countries! I will share more about ways to engage soon!! 

I also want to start doing some fun give-aways, as during this time when we are all cooped up...it's fun to receive things in the mail!! So look for those! 

Can't wait to start spreading my passion for the world once again...and can't wait to do it alongside all of you wonderful people!! xoxo 

My favorite period piece tv shows

Wednesday, March 18

Its no secret that period piece films and tv are my absolute favorites. If historical costumes are involved, I AM HERE FOR IT!! (It's also no secret that my birthday parties tend to reflect this trend, see here, here and here!).

Someone recently asked me why I love period pieces so much, and it made me stop and reflect. There are a number of reasons, but a major theme is that you can generally find virtue threaded through the story. There are vices, yes, but as a reader and viewer you consistently walk away encouraged towards virtues of kindness, patience, forbearance , etc. At the end of P&P you celebrate that Lizzy has seen past her prejudice and that Darcy has released his pride, and there is a true contentment found in one another. By and large I am always surprisingly encouraged and supremely serene after a good fill of Austen’s pen. As a therapist who spends her days sitting in brokenness with clients, period pieces are a welcome respite from the weary world, and a calming balm of beauty in the scenery, music, costumes and story. Anyone else feel this way?
Anyway, the entire world is confined right now with a wee bit more times on our hands, so I thought it might be fun to round up all my favorite period piece dramas for you all! {as a side note...the other day I posted one of my new period piece films I love in an IG stories, and I've never received more messages regarding anything else! Hence... this post!}

Some of these you might be familiar with, and others may be new...but all of them I have seen and watched with interest and will give you my honest feedback on! Ready? Pick up that tea cup and let's go....

Today I'm just going to share my favorite period piece TV Series and then hopefully I'll share my favorite period piece movies soon!! xoxo

So...this was the new show I shared the other day on IG. Sanditon was Jane Austen's last book she ever wrote...but she actually only wrote half of it before she died. The writers of the show take liberties to finish out the story, and it 100% works. I absolutely LOVED Sanditon, mostly due to the leads having incredible chemistry and great dialogue. But the story is fun, nuanced and held my attention all the way through. I will warn you it's a bit grittier than any other Austen books (of course because it is being finished by a contemporary writer) but there's nothing I would deem incredibly inappropriate. I also will warn you the ending might be unexpected for you. I think they are hoping for another season...which is yet to be seen! Fingers crossed!

Anyone else get swept up by Poldark? Kevin and I started watching this in 2016, and were HOOKED!! The story follows Ross Poldark who returns to Britain after fighting the revolutionary war in America, and begins to get his life back together by reopening his father's copper mine and falling in love. So much adventure, great characters, and the scenery from Cornwall (where it is filmed) is absolutely stunning (a character in and of itself!). I will say it has a few racy scenes, but they are a bit fewer and far between.
Netflix or Amazon Prime

Larkrise to Candleford
Ok...this show was a slow burn for me. It started out slow, and by the end I was madly in love with it. It's a series about two towns in England right before the Industrial Revolution. One town is a market town (meaning it is a little bigger) and the other town is a little hamlet. The cast of characters is absolutely darling. However, this was one show Kevin wouldn't watch with me (he usually watches period pieces with me, and generally likes them) because the episodes don't have too much drama. They tend to be about day to day life activities...he always jokes that one whole episode was about the cows getting out of the pasture (hahahah!) But I would highly recommend it if you love England, character development, and just quirky characters!
Amazon Prime

I loved this series and was equally annoyed with this series. It follows the life of Queen Victoria and her love story with Albert and everything else in between. I knew next to nothing about Victoria so it was fun to get a little history lesson. But at times she is sooo annoying (or shall I say vexing, haha!). Totally worth watching though! I still need to watch the latest season!

The Crown
Awwww, can you see a trend? I love me some British TV, and The Crown does NOT disappoint. I LOVED this series. I actually almost didn't watch it because the first episode of the first season is definitely the most boring. I watched one and was debating continuing, and I am SO glad I did. As it goes on, I only became more and more fascinated with the Royal Family. I knew next to NOTHING about Prince Phillip, but now consider myself somewhat of an expert after all the research I did after each episode (hahah, anyone else do this???). Anyway, I cannot WAIT for the next (and I heard, final) season.

Call the Midwife
This might be one of my favorite shows EVER (which is saying a lot!). And in the same fashion as the Crown, I watched the first episode of Call the Midwife years ago, and hated it, so decided it wasn't for me. A few years later (after actually giving birth to Avonlea) I thought I would give it another go. And I LOVED it. Anyway, this series is the definition of heartwarming. It literally makes me cry happy tears every.single.episode. The female friendship in this series is off the charts. No other show on tv showcases the love friendship can have like the midwives and nuns on this show. It is gentle, tender, and cherishes human life like no other show I have seen. Love it.

This was just the sweetest little miniseries. Like Larkrise to Candleford, it starts out a bit slow. In fact, there is one scene where you watch a woman peel an orange for like a minute...I was literally like... "what is even going on? Will anything happen in this show?" haha But then the drama all starts unfolding and it's every bit as darling as you would imagine. It's about a small town called Cranford and the changes that start to occur as new people come to town. The music, done by Carl Davies (who also did the 1995 Pride & Prejudice) is utterly breathtaking!
Amazon Prime

I kept seeing ads pop up for Homefires, and I kept thinking "that looks boring". But one night when I had nothing else to watch, I decided to give it a go. And lo and behold, it was mesmerizing and is still a series I think about and wish they would make a 3rd season. Homefires follows all the women in a little town in England when WWII breaks out. The character development was top notch, and I found myself simultaneously laughing and crying in each episode. Sadly, they only made two seasons but they are absolutely worth watching!!
Amazon Prime

The Paradise
This was a very easy breezy show to watch. There's nothing deep or even very nuanced about it. It's simple with little character development, but I loved it all the same. It follows the first department store in England back in the 1800's and has some endearing characters and fun plot lines. Not my favorite period piece, but a fun one that I would watch again.
Amazon Prime

North & South
This is based on a book by Elizabeth Gaskell. I love the story line and felt it captured the essence of some of the challenges faced by Brits during the Industrial Revlolution. It follows a girl from the south of England who has to move to the north of England because her father takes a job there. She is horrified by the plight of the working poor in the mills, and of course falls in love with someone unexpected. I have to say I felt this was a little miscast, I didn't feel the chemistry at all between the two lead characters. Regardless, I still enjoyed it and have watched it a few times!

Dr. Thorne
This was a 3 part miniseries about a doctor in a small town who takes care of his niece Mary Thorne. It's a simple little story with love and drama and intrigue, but a fun one that is visually stunning!
Amazon Prime

Miss Fishers Murder Mysteries
This might be the only one on the list that takes place in Australia (and not England! gasp!). It follows the hilarious Miss Fisher as she solves murders during the 1920's. Like others, if you only watch the first episode you will hate it...give it 3-4 and you will fall in love with Miss Fisher and the cast of delightful characters. Her chemistry with the detective is definitely worth watching for!

We've all seen the 90's Emma with Gwenyth Paltrow, and of course there is a new version of Emma out right now in Theatre (which I saw for my birthday and have mixed feelings about). But this miniseries of Emma is the one truest to the book and is fun and lively and beautiful. I love Romola Garai as an actress and she did not disappoint in Emma. Also, this one has my favorite version of Mr. Knightley.
Amazon Prime

Grand hotel
Ok...so this one is totally different than the others...but I got super sucked in. It follows a young waiter working at a huge hotel in Spain during the early 1900's trying to find out what happened to his sister. It will consume some massive hours of your life, but it was cheesy, hilarious, suspenseful, and romantic. I really did love it.

Downton Abbey
What can I say...this is the grand finale of a show! You probably have all seen it though, which is why I listed it last. And if you haven't seen it...get ready for some fantastic tv period piece viewing:)

Lastly...there are a few period piece films in the murder mystery department that I have watched. I have to say that after a few episodes I can't quite handle anyone else being murdered. So...I tend to kind of lose steam on these and never quite finish them. But, if you like murder mystery shows the two I have watch (besides Miss Fisher) would be Grantchester and Father Brown. Both of them follow vicars around who solve murder cases with their side kicks. They actually both take place in the 1950's so things are fresh from WWII. The only difference is the vicar in Grantchester is super cute and the vicar in Father Brown is like your friendly old grandpa, hahahah! So there's that! Grantchester is on PBS and Father Brown in on Netflix.

Soo...stay tuned for a post on my favorite period piece movies...as this one is already too long haha!! And please feel free to comment on any period piece shows that I missed! I would LOVE any new ideas!! xoxo

How can I love others 100% right now from the confines of my home?

Tuesday, March 17

 Yesterday as I nursed Everett in the stillness of his room, rocking back and forth, I soaked in this situation that we, practically everyone in the world, finds ourselves in.

And I refused to give into despair.

I know as a child of God, empowered by the Holy Spirit, that I can move in the opposite spirit as the world...that I can experience AND manifest freedom, even in the cruelest of times.

Instead of fear...deep heartfelt love
instead of greed...lavish generosity
instead of selfishness....service to others
instead of anxiety...lifegiving peace
instead of despair...amazing HOPE

So I pondered...how can I love people best in this time? From the confines of my home as we practice social distancing.

I thought of the 5 love languages...
- Quality time
- Acts of Service
- Gifts
- Physical Touch
- Words of Affirmation

For the purposes of this article, I am talking about how to love people that are outside of my immediate little family. Clearly I can, and will, extend all 5 love languages to my husband and two children.

But for everyone else?
Physical touch is out of the question (obviously)
Quality time in person is also out
Acts of service and gifts can be practiced somewhat from a distance

BUT....words of affirmation I can practice 100%!!!!
At every turn I can encourage someone...
offer life-giving words that heal and bind.

Friends, may our families come together to write cards, send texts, affirm one another verbally!

Think of it as a way to spread a love revolution, right from the confines of your home.

The apostle Paul wrote many letters while in prison. He was undoubtedly confined, unable to venture out even if he wanted to. And do you see? His letters, inspired by the Holy Spirit, brought great healing and vision and life to us...ultimately God's love letter to us.

While we won't be writing anything to be canonized, we can, however be used by the Holy Spirit to...

lift someone's dark day,
remind them who they are by sharing what you love about them
offer a healing balm of peace through the impartation of scripture,
reminisce over life-giving memories that evoke laughter and warmth
recall dark days that God brought us through faithfully that left us living more brilliantly than we did before

Oh dear one...there are a million ways you can bring life through words of affirmation!

If writing cards is too time consuming, sit down and go through your contacts texting people like crazy!

There is no one right way to do this, but it is RIGHT TO DO THIS

Let us 100% love through words of affirmation today,
because we can.
because we are all connected, and we cannot let the enemy convince us that we are alone or isolated or dealing with this on our own.

We are a body, a unit, a team, a family.

And in this family LOVE WILL WIN.
May we allow the Holy Spirit to fill us with his love, and then we will get to work:)

Lastly, my aunt texted me this morning (so loving) and offered this poem a pastor wrote, which I felt was so fitting...

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.

"In the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body" - I Corinthians 12:13

Our social distancing is an illusion.
We are one.
There is no distance.
No gap.
Isolated in your apartment, you belong.

You breath and it fills my lungs.
You weep and my heart is broken.
We are one body in many places.

In this time of separation we open our hearts,
we allow ourselves to flow out from our bodies,
in Spirit to one another,
to the strangers.
who are part of us.

Like the Italians singing from their balconies with neighbors,
we are all notes of the same song.

Love flows where germs cannot.
Meditate on our amazing unity.
Extend your spirit to include all it includes:
the whole world.

Breathe in this breath (so threatened!),
a gift.
Breathe out this breath (so released!),
a gift.
Let compassion for all beings flow with it,
in and out, refreshing your whole body,
the Body of Christ,
the whole human family,
the whole Creation.
Let love be our body.

Let your love take flesh.
Make calls, write letters.
And when you come back out,
don't stop being one another's body.
It's your life.

Isn't that breathtaking. Oh friends...we are one body. One family. Let us love, and let us love now.

Happy Tuesday, happy St. Patricks day!

DIY Bathroom Remodel

Thursday, March 12

Friends, I have been so so excited to share my bathroom remodel with you! From the minute we moved into this house in 2016, I have wanted to do something to spice this space up. Annndddd, the reality is, with work and kids AND mostly choosing update public spaces that most people see {cause let's face it...no one sees your masterbath!} ...it just fell by the wayside. 

I finally was inspired to actually MAKE IT HAPPEN when two of my favorite DIY bloggers, Cynthia Harper and Angela Rose, teamed up to host a 2 day/$200 challenge. I was IN!! 

First...please view the "before" pictures....they are pretty uninspiring and incredibly ugly....

Can we please talk about this floor for a hot second? It is vinyl, which isn't even the worst part about it. THE PRINT!! THE COLOR!!! Who would EVER pick this flooring? I.can't.even. It's original to the 1950's house, so evidently it was a popular option in the 1950's? Who knows!! But the creepiest part is that whenever I sat on the toilet and looked down, I would inevitably see weird faces in it. And then I COULDN'T UNSEE THEM!!!! This floor slightly traumatized me...bye bye floor! 

Ok...let's be done with the before pics (I'm getting depressed at how ugly it was! haha). Here are the AFTER PICS!!! Soooo much better!

 ...and...a little side by side action..

So...what did we do to change it so drastically and on a budget? Here's the breakdown...

1. Paint the floors to look like tile! 
I have seen SOO many people do this on Pinterest, and I really wanted to try it. I found this stencil here on amazon. There are so many stencils to pick from...lots of great ones on etsy...but I chose mine based on fast shipping (I decided I wanted to do this project like 4 days before I started, haha! So prime shipping was my best friend!). I scrubbed my terrible vinyl floors until they were sparkling clean (but lets be real, that terrible vinyl never sparkled ha) and then used Rustoleum Chalk Paint in white to paint the base coat. I gave it 3 coats. Then I used Rustoleum Chalk Paint in gray to paint my stencil! I used an adhesive to stick my stencil to the floor, then rolled over it with a small foam roller. FYI- Stenciling is not hard...but boy is it time consuming!!! And for this mama, who was rolling during nap time...this job took FOOORRREEEVVVEERRR!!! If you had childcare for the day, you could totally bust it out. But it does take some time to get into a rhythm...at least it did for me!

After the whole floor was stenciled and dry, I used a non toxic sealer. Normal Polyurethanes or polyacrillcs are full of chemicals and smell terrible, so I set out on a mission to find something non toxic, and I did!!! AFM SafeCoat, Polyureseal BP, Matte is a wonderful non-toxic option. It did not smell at all, in contrast to normal polyurethanes that give me the biggest headache! It's definitely more expensive, but SOOO worth it in my opinion!! I did 4 coats just to make sure my floor was sealed, haha!! So happy with how it all came out! And I've lived on it for over 6 months now without as much as a scratch! It's held up sooo well!!

2. Paint the vanity! 
The reality is, you don't need to buy new furniture! Paint covers over a multitude of sins, right? hahaha!! Because I'm neither a perfectionist and I'm slightly lazy and hate sanding...I turned to my go-to Rustoleum chalk paint to get the job done! I wipe down the vanity, and then just went to town and painted it white (2 coats!). This made a huge difference!

3. Hung a new light fixture! 
The old light fixture was just plain ugly and screamed cheap. I found this one on amazon for a great deal, and then spray painted it a matted gold color.

4. Spray painted the hardware gold! 
I used the same gold spray paint to spray the toilet paper holder, and the new towel holder we bought at Home Depot. I love the warmth this matte gold color brings!

5. Built a towel rack! 
We used a piece of wood that's been sitting in our garage and screwed some gold hooks into it! I found the hooks at Hobby Lobby, and the wood is from Home Depot.

6. Made a macrame wall hanging!
As you can see, we have that very awkward wall to the side of our toilet. I was trying to figure out what I wanted to put there, and didn't want to hang any picture frames as it would feel too cluttered. I found some yarn in my craft closet and and part of an old dowel I had used for another project. I YouTubed "how to make a macrame wall hanging" and 30 minutes later I had made this! It's amazing what you can make with YouTube and some odds and ends hahahah!!!

7. New rugs, shower curtain, hand towel, plant, and painting!!! 

Here's the budget breakdown:
$18: Rustoleum Chalk Paint Linen White
$18: Rustoleum Chalk Paint Aged Gray
$39.99: AFM SafeCoat, Polyureseal BP, Matte, 1-Quart
$69: Light Fixture 
$15: Stencil
$20: Handtowel
$18 :Handtowel Holder 
$7: Gold Spray Paint 
$0: Rugs (from World Market, but I had a gift card!)
$0: Shower Curtain (from Target, but I had a gift card!)
$0: Plant + Painting (from Hobby Lobby, but I already had them in other parts of my house!)

Friends, I hope this inspires you that decorating CAN be on a budget! We don't have spare money for a renovation now, but we did put a little aside each month to make these small changes:) And what a CHANGE it is!! One I look at each day with a little smile on my face! Let me know if you have any questions or if I missed anything!!!

Breakfast in Bed // The Tradition Series

Monday, March 9

If there is one tradition I want to share with you from my own life, it's this one. And since today is my birthday, it's the perfect time! My parents were pure genius to start this tradition in our family, and every year I look forward to it with much anticipation. Here's how it goes…

Each year on my birthday, I would wake up to breakfast in bed. The night before, my mom would ask me what I wanted to eat for my special day. As a child, she would take me to the grocery store and let me pick out any cereal I wanted (which was a big deal because we usually were not allowed to eat sugar cereal, so of course I gravitated towards the most ridiculous cereals like cookie crisp and cinnamon toast crunch! ha ha!! Go crazy, I know!). As I got older, I'd usually ask for Swedish pancakes! Every year the food always went atop a special red plate that read "You are Special"!! 

The morning of my birthday I would be woken up to my entire family (parents and siblings!) all singing happy birthday. {I usually woke up before that, soooo giddy, but would pretend I was asleep!} My parents would carry the tray of food with candles lit, and my siblings would come bearing all my gifts in their arms! I'd eat a few bites, and then someone would drop a present in my lap to open! It was such a fun morning, and set the cheerful and celebratory tune for the rest of the day! 

Since being married, Kevin and I have tried to carry this tradition on. It is absolutely one we plan to start doing with our children as well. I cannot think of a better way to tell a child they are So special and loved, than to start their birthday focused on them, brining cheer and happiness to their bedroom! The fun part about this, is that even when it wasn't my birthday, I LOVED being a part of my sibling's and parent's special days! 

As I mentioned above, for most of my teen and adult life, my special birthday breakfast was always Swedish pancakes (which is essentially a crepe!). When I found out I was gluten and dairy free, I gave up eating crepes. But just recently I found an AMAZING paleo crepe recipe that I wanted to share with you. These paleo crepes are the easiest things to make, and are perfect for a special morning! 

Paleo Crepes: 
Five eggs
1/2 cup almond flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons honey
dash of salt

Mix all ingredients together and pour on hot skillet with coconut oil. Cook about 1 min on each side. Cut up fresh berries to top the crepes, and then drizzle a little pure maple syrup over them. Perfection!