Archive | October, 2012

a confession I’d rather not confess – but I will anyway

Confession:

I have never voted in a presidential election.

There. I said it.

Now before you get all judgy on me, continue on.

This is not a proud piece of information to share. I’m actually quite embarrassed and ashamed. While I’ve been eligible to vote for the past four elections, I have not.

First, let me tell you why.

1. I find politics to be over-my-head. I’m sure if I put any amount of time into researching policies, watching the news, visiting political websites and reading current event publications, I would feel differently {or would I?!}. Instead, I spend my time researching recipes, watching Disney Jr., visiting design websites and reading novels.  Politics are just not part of my daily routine and for the most part, I don’t wish they were.

2. I find politicians hard to trust. I don’t know, maybe it’s all those terrible attack ads or maybe the fact that we all talk much bigger than we can walk, but politicians don’t come off as genuine and they rarely seem to keep their promises. Which makes it hard to really get behind anyone.

3. Since I don’t have a whole lot of information to go off of, and I don’t particularly feel strongly for any one candidate, I figure I should leave the voting up to the more-informed.

{I can hear all of you political-types groaning at your screen right now. Especially my cousin. And my husband.}

And so, for the past four elections, I have. I’ve left the voting up to the more-informed.

This time around I’ve felt convicted. Very convicted.

How dare I take this freedom for granted?

How many women, both before our time and throughout the modern world, would give anything for the opportunity to vote?

Yet here I am, tossing my ballot into the recycle bin because I don’t take this seriously. I don’t think my vote counts. I don’t care.

That’s not right and I know better.

Several weeks ago I shared these thoughts with some girlfriends, who surprisingly did not throw rocks at me, but instead shared similar sentiments. All are my age {30’s} with similar demographics {married/children/home owners/college graduates} and each of us do not value our voting privileges – or so it would seem because very few had actually voted in any of the previous four elections.

Which got me thinking … how many of you are in the same boat?

How many women out there {smart, capable women} do not vote each election because we feel uninformed and therefore like our vote is useless?

I may be completely off-base, but I’m guessing quite a few. Our lives are full, our passions lie outside the political arena, we make choices to read Real Simple over The Economist and watch Dancing with the Stars over the Presidential Debate. It all sounds like chatter that our ears and minds can’t comprehend anyway, so we tune out. “Let the more informed make the decisions”, we say. And if not outright, we say it by our actions.

But we should not and we can not.

We have to vote.

Even though it’s over-our-heads.

Even though the candidates have flaws.

Even though our one vote may not make the difference in the outcome, collectively our votes do matter.

We really have to vote.

So here I am, confessing to you that I’ve taken this voting privilege for granted all my life. I am one of those {almost a quarter of the American population, by the way} who deliberately choose not to vote.

But this election is different. I’m growing up, being responsible, taking the freedom I have seriously and voting.

Won’t you join me?

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beating a dead horse

That’s a terrible title {where did the horrible saying even come from?}.

But what I have to share today qualifies: it’s been said before. Over and over.

And yet, maybe we all need to hear it again.

// It’s not as pretty as it seems //

Take our kitchen, for instance.

I posted this photo on instagram with this caption:

“it only took four years to muster up the motivation to finish painting the kitchen”

A few minutes after posting, my friend Emily commented, “looks great!”.

Funny thing was, we had not painted it yet. We were just removing everything so that we could paint.

From a distance – from the outside – it looks pretty good.

Up close, you see this:

You would never notice the unfinished state that our kitchen has lived in these past several years by looking at photos on the blog. We do a good job of staging and photoshop-ing to get it looking just so.

But the truth is, it’s not as pretty as it seems.

. . .

Then there’s this:

I mentioned to my friend that I saw photos of her brother and sister-in-law and their new baby and their cute life and they looked so happy and is their marriage back on track?

No, she said. Their marriage isn’t great. They are struggling with this new baby. Not a lot of happiness.

I know better than to assume life is as good as it looks in photos.

And, yet, I still made big assumptions based on a few momentary snapshots.

. . .

The other day, my sister’s friend asked her if I was for real. Like, does my bathroom really look like that? Where’s the little scraps of toilet paper and dirty towels and overflowing trash can?

Well, goodness. Of course the bathroom is a mess. Our entire house is a mess.  I just pick it up before snapping photos.

We have a household full of messy people. Why there must be a light saber dropped in the middle of the floor of every single room, I can not explain. And the random socks – don’t get me started.

I do this for a living – staging and photographing, blogging about project successes and lovely things. I put on a good face and do my best to be honest, but don’t be fooled:

It’s not as pretty as it seems.

I don’t say this to be all downer on you. And like I said way up there, it’s been said many times before.

But I just wanted to remind you, remind me, that there is more to life than appearances.

Staged living rooms are good. Instagram photos of your trip to the pumpkin patch are darling.

Don’t stop enjoying the beauty of life and sharing it with others.  There is much to be grateful for and your highlights might just be the inspiration someone needs to find joy this day.

But also remember that under the happy faces and styled spaces lives a messy person. Someone who is flawed and struggles and tries her best to cover it all up with appearances. Rather than fall into that trap, let’s start being honest with each other.

If you write a blog, you don’t have to air it all out publicly. If you’re updating Facebook, there’s no need to give the gritty details of the battle you just fought with your toddler.  Or your husband. The general public doesn’t need to know your innermost struggles.

But your people do. You know, the ones you trust. The ones you can talk to and be open with.

Let’s not walk around pretending to be pretty and making assumptions about other people’s pretty lives.

Instead, let’s give grace and accept one another – however messy we are.

“Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love.” Ephesians 4:2

Poor horse. No more beating – time to bury this one.

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falling for the feather trend {november collection}

One of the best parts of my job {if you can even call it that!} is creating a new collection of printable paper goods for JDC | Monthly. Every month has something unique to celebrate and finding a way to make that stylish rather than obvious is a fun challenge for me.

This November, I took inspiration from the current feather trend {have you noticed? They’re everywhere!} which seems fitting for a cozy, warm, thanksgiving-y feel.

Because this is a big month of family gatherings and gratitude-giving, there are a few extras included to help with holiday table setting.

A note card to write what we’re thankful for.

And feathered place cards {which can also be used as gift tags}.

Our project for the month is this funky wreath

I kinda love it.

And the art print is one of my favorites.

That’s a good quote.

To download and print the items shown, you can join JDC | Monthly {your first month is free!} and you will also get all kinds of other goodies to keep you organized this month.

monthly calendar . weekly calendar . note cards . daily menu planner . grocery lists . chore charts . scripture cards . dinner menu . art print . large and small feathers

Members simply download each pdf, print on your favorite paper {see mine here} and fill in the details to keep your organized.

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So, if you would like to be part of JDC | Monthly, of course we’d love to have you!

The subscription is $9.99 per month {first month is free} and is super easy to sign up for : just click the button below:

the details

Included each month:

monthly calendar . weekly calendar . chore charts . dinnertime chart . daily menu . grocery & shopping lists . note cards . mailing labels . scripture cards . an original art print {exclusively for JDC | monthly members} . tutorial with templates for the project shown

You will be sent a link to access all of the pdf files. Download and print, or save them to your computer for a rainy day.

JDC | monthly members will also receive 50% off all printables in the shop.

fine print

When you sign up you will be directed to the current month’s link immediately. Billing is done on a 30 day cycle {so if you join on the 15th, you will be billed the following month on the 15th}. On the 22nd of each month, you will receive an email with the link to download the collection of pdfs, as well as the project tutorial.

If you decide JDC | monthly is not for you, you are free to cancel at any time.

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So, what do you say : want to try it out? Click below to sign up.

P.S. If you are already a member, your November link was emailed to you this morning. If you need any help please let me know.

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steppin’ up

When you live in a house with little ones, sometimes practical things {like step stools in the bathroom} are essential.

I was growing tired of seeing our perfectly-functional-but-equally-ugly plastic stool in the guest bath and so I was excited to find this wood version at IKEA. It actually is quite attractive in its bare form, but also pretty painted.

One afternoon, my No. 3 and I set to work painting the stool.

I’m not always excited about doing painting projects with my kids, but this actually taught me that 1. they are capable and 2. it can be fun.

After a coat of primer, we rolled on our paint. I used Sherwin Williams Rushing River, which is also the color used in Audrey’s nursery on her bed and shelves. One of my faves.

Two coats of paint and a few days to fully dry, and it now sits in our guest bath.

The perfect little perch for this cutie-pie.

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fashionABLE

While away this past weekend, I was introduced to a new company and instantly fell in love.

Helping women live with purpose and dignity simply by purchasing a beautifully crafted scarf? Yes, please.

I just adore companies like fashionABLE and Noonday that help us help others.

I bought myself a scarf and will wear it proudly.

But I couldn’t stop there …

I bought one for you, too.

One of the best things about these scarfs are the handwritten tags attached. This makes me feel like our money is not just going to an organization, but actually impacting individuals.

If you would like to win this saba scarf, here’s what to do:

* purchase a scarf from fashionABLE {click here}

* sign up for the fashionABLE newsletter

* like fashionABLE on facebook

I’ll choose a random winner and post on the jdc facebook page friday October 19th.

** This giveaway is now closed. But feel free to still check out the FashionABLE site! **

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oh, deer

There is something mysterious and gentle about a deer.

They are sweet, yet wild. Cautious, yet powerful.

We live in the country and see deer regularly. They are pests to gardens and wander dangerously close to the road late at night. And still, we slow down with each sighting and behold the beauty and grace of this wild creature.

Inspired by a book I’m reading {review coming if the novel turns out as good as I hope!}, here are a few pretty images and adorable fawn products found around the web.

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Lovely, lovely little deer.

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on getting away, messiness and justin bieber

An update and random ramblings from my life these past two weeks via instagram …

1, 2 & 3. A few of us took a girl’s weekend to our friend’s beach house. Time away with just girlfriends, an unobstructed view of that perfect NW beach, trying octopus {weird}, and staying up way too late. It was perfect.

4. While on that restful weekend, I got strep. Again. Three times in three consecutive months.

5. So I bought myself some slippers. Retail therapy helps a little when it feels like you’re swallowing nails.

6. I love stripes. Truly I do.

7. My office threw up on me. Does that ever happen to you?

8 & 9. My sisters and I went to the Justin Bieber concert this week. Don’t judge. It was AMAZING.  My ears are still ringing from the out-of-control screaming by the thousands of purple-wearing pre-teen girls. I may have a small crush on him that grew after watching him perform live. I mean, not a real crush seeing as how I’m the age of his mother. But I just love him. My sisters and I didn’t stop smiling the whole show through. Is that creepy? I don’t know. It was fun, though.

And then there’s this:

While headed to the library for storytime, I was stuck on a country road behind a tractor full of pumpkins. I was actually on the phone with my best friend and told her I needed to hang up so I could take a photo. It was just too picturesque to miss.

Country-living at it’s finest.

Enjoy your weekend.

I’m off on another get-away – only this time across the country. More later …

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diy iphone cover {tutorial + freebie}

Back in the day, your choice for phone color was black or {sometimes} pink. These were also the days of flip phones, long before texting and smartphones and cameras that take better pictures than real ones.

Now, we not only get the fancy features of new technology {instagram anyone?}, but we get to personalize {and protect} our phones with stylish covers.

There are a million great options available, but I’m a little fickle and like to switch the cover on my phone on a whim. So I came up with a great solution: printable covers and a clear case. Works like a charm.

Want to make one for your phone? Here’s how:

SUPPLIES:

:: iphone cover print out {sign up below to receive your own copy}

:: clear iphone case {like this one for $10}.

:: scissors

:: pencil

STEP ONE: trim around the corners of the design you choose

STEP TWO: using your cover as a guide, trace the camera hole onto the design

STEP THREE: trim

*tip* use a hole punch to start your circle and little scissors to trim closely.

STEP FOUR: pop the design into your case and then onto your phone

When you tire of one design, you have two more to choose from.

Download these iphone covers for FREE! Just sign up below to receive a copy

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I’m giving away a few of my favorite things

It’s been quite a while since I put together a giveaway and this one was a fun one. All of these are favorites of mine – not surprisingly, they are all neutral, graphic and a little bit feminine.

hand-drawn twirl mug {inspired by this post} . mighty to save print from Fancy That Design House {it’s so great in person!} . l’oreal voluminous mascara {worn religiously unless I’m faking it}. striped throw {from IKEA}

j.r. watkins hand soap . set of eight linen frame note cards . mini alphabet stamps

q&a journal {a big fave} . white watch {I wear mine everyday} . book page pumpkin {tutorial here} . essie nail polish in limoscene

If you’d like a chance to win all these items,

Good luck!

{comments are closed on this post. Be sure to click the link above to enter}

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34 things

1. Today is my birthday

2. I’m 34

3. October 5th is a very common birthday {go back 10 months and you get New Year’s. Looks like some folks were doing more than kissing at the stroke of midnight}.

4. I always thought it was the most common birth date in America, but new research shows differently.

{via}

5. My claim to fame is now gone. All you September 16th birthday-girls can now be proud that you have the most common birthday.

6. I am a middle child.

7. I have two sisters. They are friendly, giving, kind, funny and beautiful. And two of my closest friends.

{little sister, big sister, me. On big sister’s wedding day 9 years ago yesterday}.

8. You can’t tell from the photo but we each have a different natural hair color: blonde, brown, red. But the exact same mannerisms.

9. And we all wore the same wedding dress.

9. But our weddings were very different. Country club {fancy}. On the beach {elegant}. Summertime celebration {just plain fun}.

10. Our No. 1 is the oldest of the 9 cousins. For a short window of time this February their ages will be 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, baby. My mom is one happy grandma.

11. Our No. 2 was eight days old before we named him. We just couldn’t come up with the right one.

12. We finally made the decision when the hospital called and told us our time was up.

13. I find it so strange that out of our four kids, none inherited Ryan’s {nearly black} or my {red} hair color.

14. They all have Ryan’s eye color {very amazing blue}.

15. And thankfully not my skin color.

16. My eyes are greenish/goldish/who-knows-what color. When I was a baby, they were crossed.

17. That is one funky-looking baby. My poor parents.

18. I have Strabismus a.k.a. lazy eye.

19. Eye surgeries when I was a baby, six and 18 have taken care of the issue for now.

20. I pretty much only focus with my right eye {I can still see out of my left, I just don’t use the two together unless I really think about it}.

21. I can’t do those annoying Magic Eye 3-D things.

22. And I can’t cross my eyes to make a silly face.

23. Thankfully, none of our kids are showing signs of eye problems.

24. My best friend from high school was Brittany Jones.

25. I was Emily Jones. We are not related.

26. We were in all the same classes, cheerleaders together and have very, very similar handwriting.

27. Both of us made our handwriting into a font.

28.

29.

30. You can get hers here and mine here.

31. Even though all of my friends are runners, I am just not. It hurts my lungs.

32. The only time I consistently ran was for a short time in college when I had a crush on this cute boy who lived in the dorm on the way to the track. I always hoped I would run into him.

33. That cute boy is now my handsome husband, daddy to my kids, business partner and putter-upper with my shenanigans. Apparently all that running past him long ago did the trick.

34. Lots of randomness to be thankful for this year. Family, kids, friends, creativity, straightened-eyes, health, marriage. Feeling particularly full on this my special day.

Here’s to wishing this year will be the

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{the blog class} success stories

About a year ago, Ryan and I had this great idea to put together a few tutorials and resources to help show how we created Jones Design Company, the blog. Over and over I was asked how I got started, what I used to design my blog, what shopping cart I used, etc. and we wanted to share. We had a short outline of the basics and thought it would just take a few weeks to compile.

Um, right.

Once we got started, we realized that we couldn’t show how to do this without also showing how to do that. And once you talk about that, you better mention how to accomplish this, too. And on and on. If we were going to do this, we were going to do it completely. So we jumped in with both feet and spent the next nine months doing silly things like recording our voices while we walked through every, single step of setting up a blog.

We opened registration for our collaborative project, The Blog Class, in June. It’s a full-fledged, start-to-finish, how-to guide for creating the blog you’ve always dreamed of.

Putting this class together was a great learning experience. We are so proud of what we produced. We enjoyed working together on it.  We believe in the class and continue to add new videos to keep it current.

But most of all, we L-O-V-E seeing the results.

To walk with so many ladies as they open their minds to new {sort of intimidating} words like web hosting and plugins, and then see them come out the other end with a perfectly “them” blog.

To give our best tips for gaining readership and then see success stories of our new blogger-students being featured on larger blogs and gaining exposure.

To create the header, sidebar and background graphics that are offered in the class and then see how each student uses them differently to give their blog the right look.

The first of The Blog Class students have worked through the content and have amazing, unique, personal, professional-looking blogs to show for it. We feel so honored and excited to be part of their blogging journeys.

With great pride and pleasure, I present to you a small handful of blogs created by students in The Blog Class. This will be an ongoing blog feature, as I want to highlight a few new blogs at a time. It is a way to support the ladies in the class and share their amazing stories with you.

A charmingly fresh and helpful site full of great ideas for what to eat, make, buy and where to go in the Phoenix area and beyond. Don’t shy away if you are not in the Arizona vicinity – Disa & Katie do a great job of keeping the content relevant no matter where you live {and they may even inspire a family trip to the desert!}

A family blog with lots of projects, recipes {meal planning tips, too!}, house remodeling and more. Teresa is the mom of four {two biological and two adopted} and perhaps one of the most touching posts I’ve ever read is this one on the struggle with wanting to be pregnant when there are so many orphaned children needing homes. I admire her heart, her eye for style and her amazingly toned arms.

I love this line from Nicole’s about page: “I like to think I have an eye for pretty.  Whether it’s a great space or a fabulous party I love it all.  But let’s face it, real life isn’t always pretty.  More often than not, I have spit up on my clothes and my hair in a ponytail.  This blog is all about my quest to find the pretty in life’s ordinary moments.” She’s my kind of girl!

A teacher by day and musician, reader, traveler, creator, thinker, talker, seeker, and Believer in life, Katie’s blog is a pleasant and thoughtful place.  She’s currently doing 31 days of Lovely Lines {a quote from a favorite book each day this month} as part of The Nester’s 31 days.  You’ll leave her site feeling a little bit smarter and inspired each day.

You’ll fall in love with sweet Cassie, the talented, darling and stylish 23 year old behind this new blog. She talks about beauty, design, house projects, inspiration, recipes and life.

It’s hard to be a brand new blogger and feel like you are writing to the wind. So if you have a second, please click a few of the links, leave a comment or two and offer some encouragement for these incredibly talented women.

. . .

If you’ve been wanting to start a blog but have no idea where to begin, we’d love to be your guides! The Blog Class is an online course with over 85 how-to videos walking you through everything from signing up for web hosting, installing wordpress, choosing a theme, creating a header graphic, adding posts and pages, spreading the word about your new blog and finding the best way to monetize.  This all takes some work, but we’ve split it up into four weeks to make it simple, manageable and completely do-able.  Once your four weeks are over, you remain members of the class for as long as you need it. No expiration!

And perhaps our students’ favorite part is that Ryan and I are here to answer questions along the way.

The cost is three weekly payments of $97 with your fourth week free.

Included is access to all videos, a premium theme {valued at $200}, a graphics pack with over 100 backgrounds, header and sidebar images, interviews from some of your favorite bloggers, a members-only facebook group as well as live and email support.

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book page pumpkins

Because I am completely not over the book page thing

and because it is the world’s easiest way to add autumn style to inexpensive plasticky pumpkins {and gourds}

I present you with a very simple, very kid-friendly, very un-original tutorial:

Here’s what you’ll need:

:: small faux pumpkins {I bought a bag of six for $8 at the craft store}

:: mod podge

:: book pages {the thinner the paper the better}

:: paint brushes & paper plate for the glue

STEP ONE: brush on some glue

STEP TWO: press paper to adhere

This is where having very thin paper comes in handy. Press the page into the creases of the pumpkin and cover with a coat of glue.

STEP THREE: keep adding paper until completely covered

STEP FOUR: let dry completely. The pages will look transparent when wet, but will dry opaque. No need for second coats.

Once dry, they make festive {yet neutral} fall decorations.

So grab a bag of pumpkins, tear up an old book, gather around a table with a friend or a kid and glue away. It’s pretty fun.

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