Archive | things i like

How To Clean A Gas Range Top

There are two types of people:

Those who like their space CLEAN

and

Those who like their space ORGANIZED

I happen to fall in the second group. This doesn’t mean I don’t adore a clean house, but if given a few minutes around the house I’ll choose organizing, picking up, putting things in their place every time. Visual clutter makes me uneasy. I stress out when my space is messy. I do a lot of picking up all day long.

A little over a year ago, we finally decided it was time to hire someone to help us keep our house clean. Ryan and I did mildly okay with the bathrooms and floors and general disinfecting, but with our work schedules and family activities and desire to chill or be social in our off time, cleaning our house fell low on the priority list. We hired my best friend’s house cleaner, Maria, and I am more than giddy every other Tuesday when she comes to whip our house into shape.

(P.S. Giving myself the permission to hire a house cleaner could be a whole blog post on it’s own. As a work-at-home mom, I felt like I should be able to keep up with the house work. It’s what my grandma did and my mom did and so my expectation was that I should be able to do it, too. But at some point I just realized it’s not what I enjoy, not what I’m good at, I get naggy and grouchy on cleaning days and that wasn’t worth it. So we hired Maria and haven’t looked back.)

how to clean a range top

Anyway, the last time Maria was here, I posted a photo on instagram of our gas range top declaring my love for how it looks so sparkly clean and how I avoid cooking because I don’t want to mess it up.  The conversation on the post was fun about the choice between electric and gas, stainless and not, and especially, how I clean the gas range top.

Well, first of all, I don’t. I try, but it never looks quite as good as when Maria does it. So I asked her if I could snap some photos and if she would reveal her tricks and she was more than happy to share.

So this is how you clean a gas range top, as according to our housecleaner-turned-friend who is very good at her job.

You’ll need a few basic, non-toxic household supplies:

supplies-for-cleaning-range

Before you begin, fill one spray bottle with white vinegar (you can dilute it slightly, but straight vinegar is fine).

Fill another bottle with this all-purpose cleaner:

2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp dawn dishsoap
1/4 cup white vinegar
1 1/2 cups water

how to clean a gas range / jones design company

STEP ONE / Spray the range top with white vinegar in a spray bottle. Let it soak for 10-15 minutes.

STEP TWO / Remove grates and burner caps

STEP THREE / Spray top with the homemade all-purpose cleaner (recipe above)

STEP FOUR / Scrub with the magic eraser. Use a toothbrush for the hard to reach spaces. (PS. don’t use a magic eraser on stainless steel).

STEP FIVE / In a bucket (or small container), mix 1 part vinegar to four parts water. Wet the microfiber cloth, ring it out and wipe down the stove top. Repeat.

STEP SIX / Use a dry microfiber cloth to dry and buff.

Maria brings a whole stack of these microfiber cloths with her. She sings their praises and convinced me to order a set for in-between cleaning. If you are looking for a good cleaning towel, these are thick and don’t get linty when you wash them.

STEP SEVEN / Clean grills and burner caps in the sink with a spray of the baking soda/vinegar/soap/water mix and the magic eraser. Rinse and dry.

Put it all back together and your range will sparkle!

 

Thanks to Maria for sharing and letting me take terribly-lit, shaky photos.

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7 Blogs I’m Lovin’

Before I started blogging, I was a blog reader. Now, this was back in the days of google reader (I loved it), pre-Instagram and Pinterest, and during a season of my life when I was home with three little ones (and one more soon-to-be on the way).  My discovery of blogs was admittedly late, but I fell hard, fast. So much so that I decided to start one up of my own (well, actually two, which morphed into one, but that’s another story).

Here we are, nearly 7 years later, and I still love reading blogs. Granted, it’s a little different now that instagram has become such a quick and easy micro-blogging platform. You can get pretty filled up on inspiration and encouragement and just plain beautiful images after a few minutes of scrolling through. But, there is something wonderful about the extra bit you gain by reading an actual blog post.

Over the years, a majority of blogs have lost their personal, un-polished humanness in exchange for more editorial, pinnable, unique content offerings. There is nothing really wrong with this type of blogging and I have fallen prey to the pressure many times to churn out content that will get the most social shares and look the most professional.

And yet, I always come back around to remembering what it is I like best about blogs I read and what I want for my blog, too.

My favorite blogs are favorites because there is a person behind each post. Someone I like. A woman I would want to be friends with in real life. Sure, she might be a really great decorator or very wise with her words or a taker of beautiful photos, but as I look at my list of current favorite blogs and assess what they all have in common, I see a woman behind the blog who is real and not afraid to be herself online.

This is most definitely my goal as a blog-writer and what I love most about the blogs at the top of my Blogs I’m Lovin’ list.

Real. Unashamed. Imperfect. Confident. Generous and kind.

It’s been 5 years since I shared my favorite blogs (here is the oldie post which still boasts many of my still-favorite blogs). I like to receive blog posts via email and subscribe to quite a few. This list of 7 are among my favorites.

Here they are, in no particular order:

Emily Henderson blog

EMILY at Style By Emily Henderson | This spunky, smart, adorable mama of two shines on the camera and makes the most eye-appealing rooms. Her style pushes me in new directions and I love her witty way with words.

shannan at Flower Patch Farmgirl

SHANNAN at Flower Patch Farmgirl | Goodness. What can I even say about how lovely and vulnerable and real Shannan is on her online space. Her writing is so pretty to read – almost poetic at times – and no matter the subject matter, it is always wrapped in grace and curiosity and a longing for truth. Plus, she doesn’t take herself too seriously and I like that about her. She just wrote a book (you can pre-order it here) and I can’t wait to pour through it.

ashley

ASHLEY at Under the Sycamore | Ashley’s blog is a longtime favorite and never fails to offer sweet moments of her life and family with gorgeously candid photos that tell stories on their own. She shares crafts, photo tips and teaches an online photography class called Snap Shops.  I love that Ashley seems so comfortable in her own skin. She lives simply, homeschooling her kiddos, raising chickens, creating a happy, colorfully embellished life. I like her.

myquillyn

MYQUILLYN at Nesting Place | ‘The Nester’, as she’s known in blog-land, was one of my first blog reads and who I owe my early blog growth to. She linked to my blog very early on and said nice things and gave me confidence to continue. She has become a real-life friend (I’ll be at her farmhouse this spring!) and a constant decorating/homemaking cheerleader to us readers to stop worrying about perfection and do our thing.  Her house style is cozy minimalism with a hint of quirky, which is such a match to her warm, silly personality.

smallthings

KATE at The Small Things Blog | I first found Kate on Instagram where she is so friendly and approachable. Her blog is filled with hair and makeup how-to videos that just suck me in and I especially like that she talks as if she were sitting right next to you. In fact, I wish she was sitting next to me making me over!

housetweaking

DANA at House Tweaking | You know what really appeals to me about Dana (besides her really, really great sense of style)? It’s how she seems so confident and unaffected by what others think. Not that she’s a rebel or anything, and I don’t know her so I can’t say this is true of her, but she shares her thoughts and ideas and inspiration very matter-of-factly and I appreciate that. She keeps her personal life fairly separate and yet you just know as a reader that she loves her family. Plus, like I said, I’m a big fan of her style and house.

inspiredroom

MELISSA at The Inspired Room | Another longtime read with a smart, soft-spoken, hospitable woman behind it all. Melissa talks about houses and shares great decorating tips and solutions, but also goes deeper into creating a house you love. She is a local Seattle blogger who just bought a new (old) house and is making it into her family’s home, one project at a time. She’s also very cool and business savvy and someone I look up to, for sure.

Alright, I’m done gushing. But wouldn’t you agree that behind a really great blog is always a genuine, likable person? I’m thankful for the little piece of goodness that each of these women shares with the world.

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Hey … one more thing. Great news! If you’ve been wanting to start a blog (or up your blogging game), Ryan and I teach an all-encompassing online course called The Blog Class.

The Blog Class / everything you need to know to start and grow your blog

We cover it all:

  • how to start
  • why WordPress is worth it
  • what to look for in a theme
  • creating your blog header and sidebar graphics
  • understanding the importance of content
  • finding and keeping readers
  • the best methods for making money with your blog

And so much more. Seriously. There are over 100 videos with not only concepts, but actual step-by-step instructions to walk you through each step.

If you’ve been on the fence about blogging, let this be a gentle nudge to listen to that desire and go for it! We’d love to be your teachers.

CLICK HERE TO LEARN HOW THE BLOG CLASS CAN HELP YOU

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Turkish Towel Fail

At the top of my Christmas wish list was a stack of new towels. Not just any towels. Turkish towels.

towels

Ryan thought I was crazy. What’s wrong with our regular white terry cloth towels? 

I didn’t have a great answer other than these three mildly unconvincing responses:

  1. I have heard great things about the size, the softness, the absorbency of turkish cotton towels
  2. After a while, terry cloth towels start to smell … sort of like … used towels.
  3. I like how they look.

I mean, just look at this gorgeous bathroom with the big, fringed towels!

towelsblacktub
Granted, our bathroom is not quite so pretty (as seen in this video). But that doesn’t stop me from wanting pretty things to try to make my not-so-pretty space prettier.

Surprise of all surprises, Ryan bought me a set of four glorious black and white herringbone towels for Christmas. I washed them, dried them, folded them in a happy stack and tried one out for the first time last week.

turkishtowelsstacked

It was a major, major letdown.

There was zero absorbency, which is my biggest towel pet peeve. Come on, towel! Your job is to absorb water!

Also, my body was covered in lint.

Boo.

So now I have a pretty stack of towels that are completely useless.

Did I choose the wrong ones? Are there fake turkish towels and real turkish towels? Do I need to try washing them again? Any Turkish towel fans out there that could help this girl out?!

Your suggestions are much appreciated.

P.S. That pretty soap and oil is from Nash + Jones. Their packaging is spot on.

(source for bathroom photo unknown)

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The Best of JDC in 2015

With the start of a new year, it gives us a chance to look back at the previous 365 days.

I love going through old posts and remembering what happened throughout the year.  So here are the highlights and favorite posts from 2015:

JANUARY

The year started off with an introduction of sorts. I forget that many of you are new readers, so it was fun to fill you in on who I am, in bullet points.

A house down the street identical to ours went up for sale, so I compared the two. Before + Afters are always great.

Kitchen Before + After / jones design company

FEBRUARY

We organized our phones:

How to Organize your Iphone Home Screen / jones design company

Mounted an ipad in our kitchen:

How to Mount an Ipad / jones design company

And then we chatted about doing our thing:

MARCH

If we were to redo our master bathroom (which we’re not, but it’s fun to dream):

Master Bathroom Design Board / jones design company

We learned a new trick to keep hydrangeas from wilting (it really works!):

How To Keep Hydrangeas from Wilting / jones design company

I made a quick video showing how to do your hair in a messy side bun:

Video: How to do your hair in a messy side bun / jones design company

APRIL

A good list of books. Always a favorite.

9 Books Worth Reading / jones design company

 If you need a chocolate chip cookie to snack on while you’re reading …

The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies / jones design company

My never-ending collection keeps growing:

MAY

A very simple keychain diy:

Stamped Leather Keychain / jones design company

I made these numbers on a whim. They turned out so cute I had to share:

And summer begins! Our house looked so fresh and calm for the summer tour:

JUNE

Things slow down in blog-world in the summer and I am so thankful for it.

I did a podcast with Jamie Ivey (so.much.fun):

Threw a party for my sister-in-law:

Then we talked summer fashion (northwest style):

Summer Outfits for the casual mom-type / jones design company

JULY

I waited for months before sharing the dinner solution that changed my life just to make sure it really did change my life (hint: it did – and still does):

I finally put up artwork in Audrey’s room:

AUGUST

My go-to paint color if you’re looking for a neutral warm gray:

Revere Pewter / jones design company

SEPTEMBER

With summer over and the kids back in school, I was back at it. First up, sharing about the struggle to find good, simple metal frames (and how I solved the problem):

House Tour, Fall Edition (the #4 most viewed posts!):

My Favorite Fall Outfits:

Favorite Fall Outfits / jones design company

OCTOBER

My friend let me help her brighten up the entry:

This little trick makes the cheapest grocery store flowers look elegant:

NOVEMBER

Our house was featured in a magazine:

We launched a new site called Maker + Ink (scripture + style):

DECEMBER

A new free print!:

The stag got a diy pom wreath for the holidays:

wreath

Our house looked so pretty simply decorated for Christmas:

And that was it.

What a year.

Thanks for joining me! Cheers to a new year filled with inspiration and beauty.

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16 gifts to add to your wish list

My younger sister was over a few weekends ago and asked what I wanted for Christmas. Which made me stop and think because I hadn’t even considered it.

Ryan and I are notorious for buying ourselves things throughout the year and claiming, “this can be my christmas present!“. Gifts are not our love languages, so we don’t put in a lot of effort into surprising each other with special, unexpected things on Christmas morning. Therefore, creating a wish list is not necessarily something I do each year.

But if I did make a list, this is what would be on it. And now that I’ve created it, I actually do wish for every one of these items.

16 Gifts To Add To Your Wishlist

(I have been collecting things on a private pinterest board for the past few weeks and I honestly didn’t realize until putting the collage together just how limited my color palette was. Grays, golds, copper, black and white forever.)

I’ll quickly highlight each item. Click the image for the source.

moccasin-slippers

I wear an old pair of these pretty much every day and they’re looking tired. A new pair is in order.

styled

Emily Henderson is so good at what she does. Her new book has been sitting in my Amazon cart for over a month. It for sure makes the wish list.

zinc

The patina. The texture. The soup-can shape. I want to fill each one with a maidenhair fern.

bowl

Confession: I have this set of bowls already. I just had to include it on the list, though, because I must share the wonderfulness that they are. The shallow, wide bowls are just made for pretty salad presentation.

gloves

Gloves that keep your hands warm and let you use your phone. Fa-aancy.

tray

I was at my older sister’s house for Thanksgiving and she has little trays around her house – on the coffee table holding books, a candle, a bowl of candy, in the kitchen holding salt and pepper and oils, in the bathroom with flowers and cotton balls. So many versatile uses for organizing and making clutter look less cluttered.

soap

Another confession: my cousin just brought me a bar of this soap as I was putting the post together! How did she read my mind?! It’s super cool and will look great in the guest bathroom with these prints.

bathtowel

Have you tried Turkish bath towels? They have been on my must-try list for a while because I’m just not in love with terry cloth bath towels. Of all the things listed, I want these the most.

cake-stand

Cake plates are great for displaying cakes, but I also like that they add height to the shelves in the kitchen. There is something so pretty about a collection of cake stands (like this).

jewelry-box

For my birthday this fall, Ryan wanted to get me a jewelry box. I searched and searched and wasn’t sure what to pick. I pick this one.

sneakers

Because a girl needs cool sneakers. Also, the word sneakers is funny.

mug

We have a few of these already and I am a fan. The copper is trendy and cool looking, but they actually are very practical in that they keep your drink very cold. I like the modern, straight shape of these.

 

server

While doing some christmas shopping, I came across this marble 2-tier server and tried to find a reason to buy it for myself. It’s handsome and sleek and I want to use it for parties.

 

necklace

Perhaps you know how I feel about monograms. The necklace is a wearable version of an L you might find on our L Wall.

hat

Classic and warm. Just right for winter.

keychain

I currently use a diy leather keychain that I’m happy with, but this one just feels a bit fancier with the tassel and monogram tag and gold clasp.

There you go, my friends. 16 gifts I would be pleased to receive this year … and perhaps you would too.

Anything special on your wish list this year?

 

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three things I’m loving right now (subject to change in a matter of days)

My friend Jamie has the best podcast and at the end she always asks her guests:

WHAT ARE THREE THINGS YOU ARE LOVING RIGHT NOW?

When I did her show, my favorites were:

this album
this exercise video
this life-saving dinner service

I still love the album, but my music choice changes with the season and Zac Brown feels much more like summer. I’ve moved on to this album which I listen to on repeat daily and this weekend I caved and started listening to Christmas music.

The exercise videos are good for sure and doing them made a big, big difference in my muscle tone. Only problem: it’s hard to keep up the motivation at home. Our family just joined the local YMCA and I’ve been going to Barre class a few times per week. I’M IN LOVE. I knew I would love barre and now having a close-by gym where I’m committing actual dollars and the class is so fun and hard and perfect, all I want to do is go to class. It’s so good for me to have something I love to do that is good for my mind and body. Find your fitness thing and go for it (that’s my bossy advice for the day. Ashley would say the same.).

As for the life-saving dinner service, yep, still saving our lives.

Since I’m as fickle as the wind and always have a new favorite, I thought I’d share the current three things I’m into right now (in addition to the top items and subject to change at any moment).

No. 1 PAINTED NAILS

nourish

Since giving up lash extensions, I’ve transferred my high-maintenance beauty tendencies to my nails.

Now, by high-maintenance what I really mean is that I might go get a professional shellac manicure once per month and 10 days later when the polish starts to lift, I peel it all off and cover up my damaged nails with at-home polish. I’m particularly in to soft pinky/white nails that make my hands feel pretty and just bought this Sally Hansen Miracle Gel polish in Creme de la Creme (as seen in the photo).  It claims to last like gel without needing the light to harden it. I’m super hard on my nails and nothing lasts as long as they claim on me.  This polish stays looking good for about 4-5 days (which for me is 3 days longer than normal polish!).

NO. 2 EGGNOG LATTES

eggnog-latte

Nothing new for me, but every year around this time I’m delighted by the lovely seasonal milk product that is eggnog. I actually prefer a homemade eggnog latte to one at the coffee shop because I only like a splash of eggnog (otherwise it gets a little too sweet for me). This is how I make them. You should come over and I’ll make you one. Yum.

No. 3 A NEW SHOW

Ryan and I started a new show that is not new at all, but it is new to us. It’s called Suits. We’ve made it through season one and are moving nicely along season two. We loved the now-canceled show The Newsroom and when my friend Jen told me that Suits is like Newsroom in the quick, witty writing (only funnier) and that the character Donna reminded her of me (I’ll take it!), we were sold. We watch for free and in multiple-episode doses through Amazon Prime, but I think you can get it on Netflix too.

So those are the three things I’m loving right now.

Want to play along? Share your three in the comments …

 

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coffee chat (catching up)

This edition of coffee chat is brought to you by my first eggnog latte of the season:

eggnog

For some insane reason, Costco already has eggnog in stock and I just couldn’t pass it up. I’m an afternoon decaf latte drinker and makes these lattes at home (here is my recipe). So while chatting, I’ll be drinking one of these. Grab a cup of something delicious and let’s chat!

double-line-tiny

Last weekend I flew to Dallas, Texas for our annual-ish college girls weekend. My friend Reagan was the host this time around and she showed us a good time.

big-tex

We visited the Texas State Fair, ate corn dogs and did lots of people watching. Texas does things big, and this fair was BIG.

texas

Later that night, we took in a high school football game between two of the best teams in the country.

I went to a high school with a graduating class of 102, so my friday night football game experience was a teeny bit different than this with the 17,000 fans and fully-uniformed marching band and blow-up tunnels with smoke machines. We were so inspired by the impressive kick line girls during the halftime show that later that night we made up our own routine. Nothing better than a couple of nearly 40-year-olds trying to high kick. There is a video that exists on someone’s phone that will hopefully never be seen. Let’s just say what we imagined we looked like and reality were a bit different.

The next day we enjoyed some shopping and fine eating in McKinney. This store was my favorite:

gray

It’s in the downtown square called Gray Living. A must if you’re in McKinney. Also a must: Patina Green for lunch and Emporium Pies for a treat to go.

pie

How darling is the packaging?!

It was a wonderfully refreshing weekend and then I came home and remembered why I love this time of year so much:

leaves

Fall leaves, cozy layers, boots.

By the way, I’m asked all the time about these boots. Unfortunately, I bought them several years ago at DSW and can’t find them online. So basically I have no answer when I’m asked about the boots. Sorry about that.

Before I left for the weekend, my friend Jamie introduced me to the newest album by her husband and band at Austin Stone Worship. The album is called This Glorious Grace.

worship

this glorious grace
If you are needing some new worship music, buy this album. You’ll love it. Especially this song. I’ve been listening to it on repeat.

Something else I really love … having family photos taken.

family-photos

This is our second year doing a mini 15 minute session. It’s such a great idea for families with many children who are not particularly as in love with having family photos taken as their mother. I just got our proofs back and there are some cute ones. I’ll share those and our outfits in an upcoming post.

What else should we chat about?

Dark nail polish. Do you like or not like? I had my nails done with a girlfriend for my birthday and went with a dark purply/black (see it in that top photo up there). I have liked it, but it is now starting to chip and I’m trying to decide if I’ll go dark again or stick to my usual neutral/bone color. Thoughts?

Gym memberships.  Once soccer season is over and we won’t have multiple mid-week practices for the boys, we’re thinking about joining the YMCA. They have barre classes (for me), a rock wall (for the kids), machines (for Ryan) and family fitness (for all of us). Will we use it? Is it worth it?

Jimmy Fallon. Everything he does is just so funny. Like this. And this. We played that second game on vacation with friends this spring and again with my family this summer. It was hilarious. If you need a good group game that will make everyone laugh, try it. And use this obnoxious song in the headphones.

Alright, friends. That’s it for now. My coffee is gone and I must stop talking your ear off. It was fun!

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19 must-follow instagrammers

Do you all love instagram? It’s easily my favorite social media app and my slight addiction. I love posting and interacting, of course, but I equally love scrolling through my feed and being inspired over and over and over again.  When choosing feeds to follow, I’m all about the photos.

These 19 instagrammers post gorgeous photos. If you’re looking for daily inspiration in visual form, these are must-follows.

fall-ig1

@thimbleandcloth | @studiomcgee

   

ig-2

@kathrynmccreary | @floretflower@maraboudesign

   

ig3

@arbuzzy | @tifforelie | @witanddelight_

   

ig4

@ryleeandcru | @housesevenblog | @buildingwalnutfarm

   

ig5

@designloveco | @heatherbullard | @sayyesblog

   

ig6

@sayyesblog | @mamawatters | @leslieshewring

   

ig7

@local_milk | @thisisglamorous | @blueeyedyonder

   

If you’d like to follow along behind the scenes with me, you can find me on instagram at:

@jonesdesigncompany

Do you have a few instagram favorites to follow?

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Black and White Striped Dish Towels + Napkins (and a giveaway!)

black and white striped dish towel / jones design company

You may have noticed in photos posted here on the blog and on Instagram that I have a slight obsession with all things black and white striped. Rugs, lamp shades, ribbon, throw blankets, and most recently, striped dish towels and cloth napkins.

black and white striped dish towel / jones design company

I found this perfect dish towel at a little shop on vacation and bought a few. I’m super picky when it comes to towels in the kitchen … they must be absorbent. It is so annoying to try to dry your hands or a dish and have the water just push around or bead up on the towel. I like one that actually soaks in the water and does it’s job. I was so hopeful that these striped cuties would also be useful towels. Thankfully, they are. Even before washing, but especially after.

Since I found what I loved, I researched the distributer and ordered a whole box. A few more for me and a bunch for you.

black and white striped dish towel / jones design company

While ordering, I also found the matching napkins. Big, square, soft goodness that look great dressing up the dining room table.

striped dinner napkins / jones design company

These are great for fall, but I think I can use them throughout the year embellishing with different fruits, flowers, greenery to match the season. I’m also thinking they could be turned into pillows (you know how I feel about pillows …)

dining room place setting for fall / jones design company

I have a set of 8 napkins leftover and would love to give them away!

Enter to win the giveaway!

 

As for the dish towels, I wish I had more to offer, but I didn’t want to go crazy with my order so I only have 28 sets of two. I’m thinking the easiest way to offer them to you is to do a sale on a first dibs basis over on Instagram.

CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE

If we run out before you have a chance, don’t worry. I’ll try to get another order in soon, so just let me know in the comments if you’d like a set!

***UPDATE*** 

The towels sold out waaaay faster than I thought. I’ll place another order and will send them out when the shipment arrives. If you’d like a set, head to instagram and post your paypal address here

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a book recommendation for you

This summer, my newest obsession has been listening to audio books.

I listened first to this one, then this, this and this (even though I had already read it and seen the move. It was so fantastic even for a second time and maybe even better to listen to than to read or watch).

While heading to our favorite vacation spot a few weeks ago, Ryan and I decided to listen to a book while we drove the 3.5 hours.  It seemed like a fun thing to do to pass the time while the kids had their headphones on watching their movie. Finding a book that we both would like was the tricky part: Ryan loves a good business/marketing/strategic thinking book, I much prefer a novel.

Somehow we landed on a book that piqued both of our interests and gave it a try. And then we couldn’t stop. We listened all the way to vacation, all the way home and this past week have spent our evenings sitting on the couch silently listening to this fascinating, compelling, engaging story.

What’s the book, you ask? Well let me share.

Boys in the Boat - a great read if you like history , sports, Seattle and an engaging story / jones design company
 

The book is called The Boys In The Boat by Daniel James Brown. It’s been sitting in my kindle for over a year after my mom and aunt told me I’d love it. But I just never started. I’m so glad I waited so that Ryan and I could ‘read’ it together – it’s so fun to listen to and great to talk about the story with each other. We feel so old sitting on a Friday night listening to a book, but whatever. We like it.

The story is about a crew from the University of Washington who defy odds and win an olympic gold medal at the Berlin Olympics just as Nazi Germany was coming to power. It’s about the history of the boys – one in particular named Joe Rantz – about what it was like to grow up during the great depression, the dust bowl, life in the Pacific Northwest during this time. But it’s also about the sport of rowing, the art of paddling, of boat making, and strategy. And then most of all it’s about what a team can do when they trust in one another. Seriously, we love it.

I found this video from the author about the book:

It’s so good you guys. The funny thing is, as we were listening on that long drive on vacation, we noticed the kids each took off their headphones and started listening along. Even they loved it! So it’s a big win. Highly recommended by the whole Lex family.

You can learn more about the book here.

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Inspired by Emeralds

inspired by emeralds / jones design company

You all know I’m a forever-and-always neutral girl. But mixed in, I usually have a certain color I’m drawn to at the moment. Sometimes it’s blue (usually it’s blue), sometimes mustardy-yellow, once it was orangey/peach. Right now, I’m feeling emerald green.

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This deep, pure, bright-ish-but-not-too-bright green feels so fresh and early fall and compliments my skin tone and hair (I’m vain like that). My approach to color is not to over do it – just a touch goes a long way when everything else is neutral. It’s how I decorate our home and how I dress myself. Lots of classics like denim and white and linen with texture to add interest and maybe a pop of color in an accessory like a pillow or candle or shoe.

I scoured the internet for my favorite emerald green things and I would like one of each, please. Here they are:

Inspired by Emerald / jones design company

1. NECKLACE  It’s so pretty in person. Ryan complimented me multiple times on the day I wore it, so I’ll be putting it on a lot this fall.

2. WALLET A great way to add color into your life – through your wallet or bag.

3. SHOE I just received this pair and I’m excited to add a pop of color to my neutral outfits with unexpected green shoes. Root Collective provides jobs to artisans in Guatemala who create these gorgeous shoes and a portion of all sales are donated back into the nonprofits. Learn more about The Root Collective here.  Use discount code JONESCO20 for 20% off all orders.

4. PILLOW Two of these on my couch. I’m thinking yes. Plus each cover is only $12.99 so I could enjoy for a short time and not feel bad about packing them into my overflowing pillow closet when I’m done with emerald green.

5. TUNIC This shirt has long been on my shopping list. I’ve just never pulled the plug. Have you ordered from ModCloth? How was your experience?

6. LE PEN Give your envelopes or notebook a happy burst of color with a beloved pen in emerald green.

7. PENDANT Wouldn’t a pair of these be pretty over the kitchen island? It is not wired for lights, but I know a guy …

8. GEMSTONE ART I love this artwork by Naomi Ernest for Minted. I actually have the entire collection and I’ve been waiting to frame them all and hang them (hopefully next week – I’ll show you when it’s done).

9. FRAME My friend Rae wants to start collecting eclectic frames and group them all together. I like this idea.

10. CANDLE I burned through this candle last year and need a new one. I don’t love smelly things, but do really like this one.

11. SWEATER Throw this on with jeans and a white tee and you’ve got my favorite everyday fall outfit.

12. KNOB Bathroom vanity knobs? Nightstand drawer knobs? It’s like jewelry for furniture.

13. EARRINGS Well, aren’t these cute and understated.

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Any favorite colors popping up on your love list right now?

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summer reading list 2015

Each summer, it seems, I re-acquaint myself with my love of a good novel. As hard as I try to pick up a book in the Christian living genre (you know, those self-help-ish, but not self-help types), I just can’t get through them. Fiction novels have my heart.

Over the past several weeks, I’ve devoured a handful of really great books and I have a bunch more I’m looking forward to start (and hopefully finish) before Fall comes around.

The more I read and the older I get, I find I’m really drawn to historical fiction. World War II stories always capture my attention as do ones set in England. Books with multiple characters whose lives somehow come to intertwine feel interesting and intriguing to me. And I just love when I miss the characters when the book is finished. That is the sign of a really good story.

Each of these fall into one or more of those categories. So here’s my list:

2015 Summer Reading List / jones design company

The first six I’ve already finished; the rest are in the queue. I won’t give the full description of the book here, but the links will take you to Amazon where you can see all the details. I’ll just tell you what I thought about it.

ALREADY FINISHED

The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty

Loved it. She wrote What Alice Forgot which I read and enjoyed previously. She has a way of talking about big social topics within an approachable set of characters. Entertaining and it makes you think.

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

Loved it even more. This one takes on domestic violence that’s hidden behind wealth and appearances. Sounds like a downer, but it’s so good.

The Last Anniversary by Liane Moriarty

Clearly, once I find an author I like I just go for it. This one was my least favorite of all of Ms Moriarty’s books, but it was still good.

Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear

This is the first in a series of 12 (I think) mystery novels set in England after WWII. Maisie is a private investigator and charming character who sets out to solve mysteries. I liked it, didn’t love it. If you’re into non-scary mysteries, this would be great for you.

Secrets of A Charmed Life by Susan Meissner

BEST BOOK OF THE LIST. I completely adored this one. So much that when I had to go pick my kids up from my in-law’s house I downloaded the audio version and switched off between listening and reading every chance I could. This one is a historial fiction, set it London during WWII. With gorgeous writing and characters who felt like friends by the end. So it basically was my perfect book.

A Fall of Marigolds by Susan Meissner

I liked the other one so much I picked up another one by Susan Meissner. I like books that switch between present day and past with story lines that overlap and this one was wonderful.  Again, I listened to the audio version (while painting my son’s room) and was sad when it was over.

Christian fiction is not always my top choice and I was pleasantly surprised to discover that Susan Meissner is in fact a Christian novelist.

COMING UP NEXT

Moloka’i by Alan Brennert

My mom’s been telling me to read this for years (as well as my Aunt and sister). So far it’s just really depressing. Well-written and interesting, but super sad. We’ll see if I keep going. I might need something a little lighter!

At The Water’s Edge by Sara Gruen

*UPDATE 07/25/15 Finished in two days. LOVED. I listened to the audio version for most of it and it felt like a movie. There is some adult language, just to let you know.

Written by the author of Water For Elephants, which was a favorite read years ago, so I’m excited to try her newest novel.

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

It popped up as a recommended book based on my purchases in Amazon and it sounds darling.

*UPDATE 07/23/15* I just read this over the past two days. Cute, but not my fave. Probably wouldn’t recommend it.

Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese

Jamie Ivey told me to read it. So I will.

Go Set A Watchman by Harper Lee

Have you read it? Is it worth ruining Atticus Finch’s wonderfulness in my mind? I’m intrigued and my sister-in-law gave me a copy so I’ll probably go for it.

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

Another one that pops up regularly as a suggested book. I don’t know much about it, but the story seems to fit with the types of books I like. If you’ve read it, tell me what you think!

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So there you have it. 12 books on my reading list this summer.

Now it’s your turn … have you read any of these? What did you think? Any other great summer book suggestions?

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the dinner solution that has changed my life (for real)

I’ve tried it all.

Planning dinner for the week.

Planning dinner for the whole month.

Eating the same meal on the same day each week. 

A regular rotation of eating out at one of the three restaurants in our town. 

Resorting to quesadillas because that’s the best I could do.

Dinner is just not my thing.

It’s not the cooking that’s the issue (I actually enjoy being in the kitchen – usually for baking, but cooking is fine, too) and I certainly don’t mind the eating part, but it’s the planning that gets me every time.  I just can’t seem to find a rhythm.

In January of this year, Ryan decided it was time to come up with a better solution and offered to take on dinners around here. After one week of a few botched recipes and realizing just how frustrating it can be to get to 4:00 and have no idea what’s for dinner, he did something crazy: he signed us up for a meal delivery service.

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You’ve probably seen posts about companies like Hello Fresh and maybe you’ve rolled your eyes and thought, ‘nah, not for me.’ But hang on. Because I was in the same boat and now I’m fully, completely, 100% a believer.

So here’s how it works: Once per week a box is delivered to your door. Inside are all the ingredients for three meals (we buy the 4 person box and it feeds our family of 6 perfectly, usually with leftovers). Included is a recipe card with the meals and instructions for preparing.

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There is a bag of produce/canned items separated for each meal that goes right into the fridge and the proteins packaged separately.

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Each night, I just decide which meal to make and pull out the bags + protein needed.

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All of the recipes are easy to make and take about 45 minutes to cook.

dinners from hello fresh

We were leery at the beginning, I’ll be honest.  What if we didn’t like what they sent? What if the produce and meat was not good quality? What if we got bored of the same meals?

After six months of using Hello Fresh, here’s what we’ve found:

1. Dinnertime is one hundred times less stressful.

I don’t have to think about what’s for dinner. I just open the fridge, pull out a bag and start cooking. All of the ingredients are included except for olive oil, salt + pepper.

2. Three meals per week is perfect.

The other four nights we either eat out, are with friends or family or just make a favorite go-to meal (like burrito bowls).

3. With the exception of about two recipes, we’ve enjoyed every dish.

You can select three out of five options per week, but we usually miss the cutoff and just go with the chef’s choice.  They’ve nearly all been great.

4. In six months, we’ve never had a duplicate recipe.

The meals are similar (protein+carb/starch+vegetable), but the flavors and techniques vary and we’ve tried recipes beyond our regular go-to meals. Many are gluten free and they also have a vegetarian menu.

5. Only once in 24 deliveries have we had a bag with produce that was not perfectly fresh.

And it was only because the balsamic vinegar spilled and mushed the spinach.

6. We are probably saving money. 

The cost per meal is more than we would spend if shopping ourselves, but because I’m barely ever at the store (I just do a Costco trip once/twice per month and a few random add-ons while running through Target), I am buying less, we’re wasting less, and eating out much less. We haven’t calculated the exact savings but even if it’s costing us a little bit extra, the time and stress it saves totally makes up for it.

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I sound like a crazy lady, but seriously, this dinner service has changed my life. And I’m not being paid to say that. We subscribed because we needed a solution and have stuck with it for 6 months. We thought we’d cancel this summer since we seem to be out and about a lot, but have kept with it and just cancel the weeks we know we’ll be out of town.

If dinnertime is a struggle for you, stop the madness and give yourself a break. Ryan was so smart to do this for our family and I wholeheartedly recommend giving Hello Fresh a try.

You can see all the details on pricing, menu options and if delivery is available in your area RIGHT HERE.

hello-fresh

When we joined we were given a referral code (8P7ZPV), so when you sign up and use that code you’ll get $40 off and we get a credit towards our meals. You’ll get a code, too, so if you love the service and tell your friends about it, you can get a credit towards your boxes.

TRY HELLO FRESH TODAY

Seriously.

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The Love Project with Ashley of Under the Sycamore

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My friend Meredith is the most amazing 23 year old I’ve ever met. For sure.

We met on the Rwanda trip last summer and with each story she told (ie. how she got her parents to adopt her little sister) and each adventure she had been on (ie. living in Iraq serving heart babies), we were all more and more amazed with her. Meredith is one special lady and she is the living hands and feet of Jesus. She wouldn’t necessarily say that – I think anyone who is doing what they’ve been called to do just feels like they are doing the best they can – but I assure you that her heart, her service, her faithfulness and advocacy for the babies she cares for is making a big difference.

Currently, Meredith is the director of a foster home in China where they care for babies with severe heart defects. The insurance system is much different in China than it is in America and so many times parents of babies with life-threatening illnesses can’t afford the surgeries their children need. So they have to choose: keep their child and he will likely not live or abandon him in the hopes that he will get the necessary medical care.  Can you even imagine? It just breaks my heart in two.

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Morning Star, where Meredith works, is a foster home that takes these abandoned babies and cares for them – providing heart surgeries, nutrition and so much love. Just peek at Meredith’s Instagram feed and you’ll see the most precious little faces, sweet personalities, purple lips and toes that turn pink after the scariest of surgeries. After necessary surgeries, they place the children with forever families through adoption. What their organization does is beautiful and I feel so thankful to women like Meredith who sacrifice so much to advocate for little ones who have no voice.

As wonderful and necessary as adoption is, family preservation is a top priority to organizations like Morning Star. Keeping families intact, keeping children in their countries, with their loved ones, providing them with the resources and medical attention needed even if they can not afford it – this is a worthy cause to fight for.

Meredith and my friend, blogger, photographer and adoptive mom, Ashley allowed their dreams to align and The Love Project was born.

“The LOVE project aims at forming a community of believers who come together to reach out to families parenting children with heart disease who because of financial limitations are faced with this terrible choice. We aim to change the conversation. Stand up for the orphan by preventing them from ever occurring. Orphan prevention. Family preservation. Friends, if we are “for” the plight of the orphan, we MUST be for the family as well.” (from the Morning Star website)

One way Ashley + Meredith are raising awareness and funds for these families is through a brand new shop filled with lovely donated artwork by several artists.  Each art print is $20 and can be downloaded instantly for printing. All of the proceeds go to The Love Project to help support families, children and medical expenses.

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When Ashley approached me, of course I said yes. I created this watercolor heart to add to the collection of love/heart inspired art for The Love Project shop. You can purchase the pdf here and print as many as you like. Ashley tried out a handful of different printing options from mpix – round prints, magnets, business card size, a calendar to show just how versatile the artwork is.

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We would love your support of this project.

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To see all of the work, to purchase a print, make a donation and read much more about Morning Star and the beautiful work they do, visit The Love Project website.

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I’m so thankful for and inspired by the example and friendships of women like Ashley and Meredith who use what they have and where they are to make a lasting impact.

Click Here to visit the Morning Star Love Project Shop

and purchase a downloadable print.

   

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If you would like to share about this project, we created a few blog buttons and Instagram images (feel free to use #morningstarloveproject). Click here to download those files.

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The Love Project - art fundraiser supporting the Morning Star Foundation. With each purchase of digital artwork, your donation will go directly to support orphan care, heart surgeries and family preservation.  For more info visit morningstarproject.com

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if you’re curious about what I’m really like …

I met Jamie Ivey (next to me, second from left) over chips + queso in Austin at if:gathering this winter and connected instantly.

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We both have four kids – three boys and a youngest girl. We are the same age. We love Noonday and Sole Hope and talking and Jesus. We have friends in common. I don’t know why, but she just felt like one of those people that if we lived in the same neighborhood/city/state, we would do life together.

jamie-and-aaron

Jamie and her husband Aaron (a worship pastor/song writer) live in Austin with their four kids. She’s an adoptive mama and speaker and hosts my favorite Podcast show ever called The Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey. Each show, she and a guest chat about books and kids and work and life – whatever is going on in their lives – little things and big things and everything in between. It truly feels like you are listening in on a conversation between two friends sitting for an hour over happy hour. It’s fabulous. I think I’ve listened to every single episode.

Well, last week, Jamie and I did a little happy hour time over the phone. We were supposed to talk for an hour, but instead just kept going. And going. And going. And then after we hung up, we kept texting with more things to talk about. I guess that’s the sign of a fun new friend.

Since we went so long, she split the podcast recording up into two!

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In the first episode (which came out last week), we talk about my sisters and the vacation Ryan + I just took, I try to explain what Jones Design Company is about, we share embarrassing stories of overexposure and then we dive right in and discuss what God is doing in my life (it’s so good and so hard at the same time).

I posted about the podcast on instagram and it was fun to hear reactions. It’s hard to let your true personality come through online – you miss the voice, inflections, silliness, real life that takes place over conversation when you forget the recording is going and you’re just being yourself. That’s part of what I love so much about Jamie’s podcast … it let’s you see another side to her guests who you might be familiar with for the book they just wrote or the ministry they lead, but this gives you a more complete picture. Anyway, I loved doing the show and love that when you listen, you get a more complete picture of who I am. So, if you’re curious about what I’m really like …

The second episode just came out today. We we’re supposed to record for so long, but like I said, we just couldn’t stop so it’s super random. Books we’re reading, what we’re doing with the kids this summer, my three current favorites, more embarrassing stories of me crying on a bus in Africa, what books we want to write.

So if you’re headed out on a road trip, or you need a distraction while mopping your floors, come listen in on our Happy Hour conversation!

P.S. There is so much in the conversations that I would love to continue talking about here on the blog. Let me know in the comments if there is anything you’d like me to share more about …

 

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