Archive | thoughts

37 Things (happy birthday to me)

1. Today is my birthday.

2. I am 37 years old.

3. Truth: I just typed that I was 38 and had to think real hard about how old I actually am only to realize that I aged myself by one year.

4. This is what happens when you start getting older. You can’t remember how old you are.

5. One of my favorite numbers is 37 (who even has favorite numbers? Why is mine 37?), so maybe that means this is going to be one of my favorite years of life.

6. I’m not a big birthday celebrator of myself. I’m good with hugs from my kids and maybe a card or flowers from Ryan.

7. And a big piece of carrot cake, please.

8. Carrot cake is so delicious. Especially this one.

9. But the carrot cake I ate in New Orleans at this great restaurant rivals it, for sure.

10. One of the things I missed most while we were on the road was barre class.

11. I went for the first time in a long time last week.

12. And nearly passed out. I’m not kidding. I had to put down the 2lb weights because I could not keep up.

13. Apparently taking a 4 month break from working out is not a good idea.

14. Want to know what else I have taken a break from? All appointments.

15. On my to-do list (that has sat untouched for at least three weeks) is appointment-making of all kinds: dentist, orthodontist, counselor, naturopath, hair cut + color. So many appointments.

16. The one I’m most looking forward to is the counselor. I know that sounds weird, but it is true.

17. My degree is in Child + Family Psychology and so I fully believe in the benefits of counseling and yet in all my 37 years, I’ve only been a handful of times. I’m slightly dysfunctional in my thinking (written with much sarcasm) and can not wait to get some ugliness and untruth worked out.

18. At a women’s retreat last spring the speaker said such a profound thing:

19. “Your brain doesn’t know the difference between the truth and a lie. All it knows is repetition.”

20. Isn’t that crazy? What we tell ourselves over and over is what our minds think is true and so we act as if it is truth.

21. In my 37th year, my hope is that I can get my heart, soul and mind to join forces and move forward with some real truth as the backbone instead of insecurities, hurt and fear driving the ship. Ugh.

22. I thought by the time you hit 37 you didn’t have to deal with these things.

23. I also thought you didn’t break out anymore.

24. Oopsies. Wrong on both accounts.

25. One thing that is great about getting older is that my kids are getting older, too.

26. I loved them as little kids and always felt like preschool-age was my motherhood sweet spot (I mean, come on. 3 year olds are just the most adorable. Slightly exhausting at times, but they are so sweet and say the cutest things. And they let you dress them in things other than basketball shorts and hoodies).

27. I wasn’t sure how I would do with older kids – especially pre-teen boys. They smell! Their sense of humor is so weird! They are so foreign to me! 

28. But I can say wholeheartedly that being a mom to these kids as they get older is better than I ever imagined.

29.  Parenting changes around the ages of my kids now (12, 11, 8, 6) from constantly needing me physically, to needing more of me emotionally and mentally. There are different challenges, of course, but for the most part, they just want to talk. And talk. And talk. And sometimes they’ll listen :)

30. One thing we were just talking about was the fact that the internet was introduced to me my freshman year of college. College! The kids thought that was crazy.

31. They also think I’m crazy for not eating chicken on the bone. But I just can’t. The skin, the veiny things, the gnawing. I can’t.

32. Also? I don’t do oatmeal.

33. I do enjoy avocado toast, though. We ate it all summer long. And for dinner the other night, actually.


34. Sourdough toast, smashed avocado with a splash of lemon, salt + pepper, arugula, cherry tomatoes, poached egg, goat cheese and a drizzle of some variety of savory jam, if available. Yum.

35. I really liked those white plates. When we sold the airstream, we enjoyed the new owners so much that we tossed in new bedding and a few pillows and gave them all of our dishes. They just fit so perfectly in the drawer. I hope their sweet family enjoys that trailer as much as we did.

36. My mom asked us if we plan on camping again and we were like, “um. Can you ask us in a few months? We just got back from living on the road”. It’s like someone asking if you are going to have more kids while you are still in the hospital with your newborn. #toosoon

37. Speaking of being in hospitals with newborns … once upon a time, there was a little red-head babe who was supposed to be named Erica, but when her grandmother came into the hospital room to look upon her new granddaughter, she declared, “How’s my little Emily Anne!” And that is how my story began …

38. Oh my goodness. I just finished this list, told Ryan how ridiculous it is that I forgot how old I was and how good thing I changed it to 37 things instead of 38 things! And do you know what? He just reminded me that I’m actually 38. You can’t make this stuff up.

P.S. I did another one of these posts on my 34th birthday entitled … you guessed it! … 34 Things. Read that one here.

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Why Absolute Minimalism Will Never Feel Like Home

We often say that stuff doesn’t matter. And, yes, of course that is true.

In the big scheme of things, stuff is meaningless. Absolutely. 100 percent.

I always thought this was true, but now I can say that after living with very, very little, I believe it more than ever. It’s the people and the real life experiences that make life richer, not the things we accumulate.

And yet …

While all the stuff – the clothes, the furniture, the dish collections or pillow collections or christmas decorations taking up most of your home’s storage space – while these things are not the most important things in life, they do matter.

I’ve had a hard time reconciling my deep belief that stuff is meaningless with my insatiable desire to be surrounded by beautiful things.

Which one is it, Emily? If you really believe trinkets are worthless then why do you find so much joy in styling out a shelf with each new season? Why do you move furniture or arrange flowers or take great delight in a color-coded closet with matching wood hangers? 

We traveled and lived as a family for over three months in less than 300 square feet. The kids each had one small bin for their clothes. I had one wooden spoon, one set of sheets, one throw blanket, one picture on the wall. And the crazy thing was that we didn’t really miss the rest of our stuff back at home!

This non-missing had me all concerned. What would this experiment in living with less do to my lifelong love of houses, of decorating and pretty things?!

Would I get home and just want to pack it all up and give it away? Would life on the road have taught me that minimalism is the way to go?

That couch you used to love – send it away! The old books you used to collect – off they go! Get rid of it all! All this excess is getting in the way of living! 

Or would all the things we have collected and inherited and purchased for our house just make it feel like home?

And if that was the case – this feeling of being at home amidst the stuff – would that be okay? Would it be okay, after all this time of tiny living, to not choose absolute minimalism for our normal life? Would it be okay to still love the couch and collect old books and deliberately choose an afternoon of moving furniture around even though I have now tried it the other way and was perfectly happy?

Well, you want to know what happened?


We arrived home and it did feel good. The kids pulled out their toys they had not seen in months. They put on clothes they had forgotten about (the ones with bright colors and big logos that were not part the mom-approved capsule wardrobe they lived in all summer). I cut branches from the back yard to bring life indoors. I switched out our bedspread for a new change. I admired and used the things in our house that make it feel like home.

And I also packed up a carload of excess to donate.

The truth is, our home wouldn’t be the same if it weren’t for the couch to stretch out on or the wall of L’s to give it personality. It wouldn’t be the same without fresh greenery and stacks of white dishes ready for entertaining.

It’s not the stuff that makes a home, but what is a home without stuff?!

So after living minimally for 4 months and now being back in our large and happily decorated home for the past three weeks, here’s my conclusion:

Our homes are here to serve us. They are meant to be a place of comfort, protection and joy. They are where we do life, where we invite others in, where we gather and grow. They are the backdrop of our lives and important ones at that.

The idea of minimalism has its benefits; there is much to be appreciated and adopted about a life free from excess. My style and shopping habits have changed over the years that definitely reflect the simple, clean, living-small and clutter-free mentality this movement is all about.

But there is also nothing wrong with surrounding ourselves with the things we love and intentionally filling our homes with beauty.

As much as I love getting rid of unused trinkets and donating items that we don’t need, want or use, I’m not sure I’ll ever stop collecting and styling the things we do choose to keep. Making a pretty home is part of me and even though popular culture says it is better and more responsible to live tiny with very few possessions, that doesn’t feel like home to me.

The goal of our homes is to be comfortable, safe places where we want to spend time and invite others in. Is my house serving me in this way? Is yours?

That’s the important question.

Are our homes doing their job?

The answer isn’t necessarily to get rid of everything just as much as the answer isn’t found in buying more stuff. What we learned about home from our time on the road is that it is not a matter of having a lot or having a little; it is about intentionally creating a space that makes you happy.

And it is about intentionally creating a home that feels like you. One that reflects your style, your needs and is a place where you want to invite others in to.

Creating a home that feels like you and makes you happy could mean clearing out the overstuffed closets that stress you out. It could mean rearranging the furniture to make for better traffic flow. It could mean painting your piano or learning how to create a gallery wall or investing in a new couch or finally figuring out what to do with the problem areas that bug you the most.

Now that I’m back, I’m more excited than ever to explore this idea of home. Of houses. Of decorating and letting our houses serve us. 

Tiny living was great for a few months, but it isn’t home to me. I’m a fan of stuff. Not too much so as it starts overtaking my life and certainly not at the cost of relationships and valuable experiences.

The privilege of making a home is adding our personal style and filling it with meaningful and pretty touches that make all who dwell inside feel happy and at home. I absolutely believe this. 

So here’s what I’d love to know from you, my darling reader-friends:

What is making you super happy about your home right now and what stresses you out? Do you struggle with making your house a place you love to be? What is getting in the way? (aside from budget. Money will always get in the way. But I fully believe you don’t have to have unlimited funds to create a home you love).

I wish we could sit face to face to talk about these things! But since we can’t, let’s chat online :)

Leave a comment and tell me, what is your biggest challenge when thinking about decorating your home? 

I can’t wait to hear …

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When putting on a swimsuit makes you crazy insecure

I’m about to do something crazy. Something every woman (except maybe professional athletes and models) would rather pull out their eyelashes one by one than do …

Believe me, when I first shared this photo on instagram, I was a little freaked out. But I had a nudging feeling inside my heart and felt like this was one of those times when I needed to lay down my own pride to share a message I wholeheartedly believe in.

So here it goes …

This is what I shared on Instagram on the second day of our beach stay on the Florida Gulf Coast (a full post of our time there is coming!):


Hanging out on the beach wearing a swimsuit makes me crazy insecure. I could come up with a long list of things I wish looked different/better/tanner/flatter/firmer and that list circles round and round my head as summer approaches.

I woke yesterday morning with a new prayer in my heart.

Lord, would you help me be proud? Of this body that is healthy and strong and that delivered four sweet babies? And would you help me see other women as beautiful – not as better or worse than me – but just all beautiful in their own way?

And do you know what happened? We spent the day at the most gorgeous beach and my heart was calm. I played with the kids and swam in the ocean and lounged on a beach chair and chatted with other beach goers – all while wearing a swimsuit. Do I still wish I was tanner/flatter/firmer? Of course. But I won’t let those insecurities steal my joy this summer. Will you join me?!

You guys. The comments and kind words on that post blew me away.

I mean, I know you all are nice, but to feel this camaraderie, this support for each other, it is so refreshing. Women can be terribly competitive and unkind to each other and instead, there was compassion and agreement and many women who have made it their goal to not let insecurities steal their joy.

I’m not the first to post an imperfect picture of myself in a swimsuit; other brave moms have done it long before me. Jessica wrote a great post about choosing to put on a swimsuit and make memories with her kids. Rachel posted about being proud of her stretch-marked tummy and not letting the marks of age and carrying babies stop her from putting on a bikini. These women are right and beautiful and speak truth.

Yes! I want to engage with my kids and make memories by being part of the fun at the beach or the pool.

Yes! I am proud of what my body has accomplished in the amazing feat of growing and birthing four large babies (my second son was 9 lbs 2 oz!).

And on top of all of that, I choose to be kind to myself.

We can be so self-critical, can’t we? We say mean things to ourselves about our abilities, our past failures, our weaknesses and – especially at swimsuit season – our bodies.

My goal this summer is to ignore those critical thoughts. To take care of myself, of course, by choosing healthy food and an active lifestyle, but also growing in my confidence and self-acceptance.

So like I asked my instagram friends, I’ll ask you, too. Will you join me in learning to be kind to ourselves? In celebrating others and not letting swimsuit-season-insecurity steal our joy this summer?

There is such freedom when we let go of those self-critical thoughts and just enjoy life. Let’s be kind to ourselves.

And rock that swimsuit all summer long.

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a little bit of this and that (road trip edition)


We leave on our 3.5 month road trip in 9 days. I’m starting to freak out a little.


As the date comes closer, our to-do list gets bigger. Our heads were beginning to bulge, so we taped up a laminated poster to a very visible door and have been adding tasks as we think of them. Things to do. Things to buy. Things to pack.

It would be one thing if we were just packing up and heading out on an adventure. Leave the house a mess! Who cares! We’ll pick it up when we return in August!

But on top of packing up for life on the road, we are also preparing our house for guests, finishing up the last-minute, never-ending projects (our bathroom, kids bathroom, random little things that have been left undone for forever) and since we’ll be gone for the whole summer and we can only bring so much with us, I’ve been cleaning out closets like a mad woman, getting rid of so much excess.

If there is anything I’ve learned so far in this planning/packing process its that when you only have 28 feet to live in, you don’t get to bring much stuff.

You know that trend called a CAPSULE WARDROBE? I’m fully embracing it for all of us. Less out of principle and more just plain necessity!

Our storage space is very limited, we have weight restrictions to think about and so every item must pass a ‘is this useful/is this necessary/is this essential’ test.

We’ll wear the same outfits over and over again which makes me think long and hard about which clothes I want to bring. If I have to wash it over and over, I want it to hold up. If I have to look at it over and over, I want to like it. It’s just a way more thoughtful way of thinking about ‘stuff’ than I’m used to.

Which makes me wonder what this girl who tends to collect stuff will feel after it’s all said and done? Will 107 days on the road with only one set of sheets, two swimsuits, three pair of shoes feel limiting? Or completely freeing? Will I miss our big house? Will I miss my million throw pillows and variety of glassware? Will we grow tired of the small space? Or will we love it? How will it impact our lives after we return? I wonder these things …

My friends have been asking how I’m feeling. Nervous? Excited? Worried?

I can confidently say I’m all three. Well, maybe not nervous. Mainly excited. With a dash of worry mixed in. I’m not typically a worrier, so the anxiousness I feel is odd for me.

While at a church women’s retreat this past weekend, the Lord was so kind to remind me that the worry I feel is just me not trusting Him fully.

This whole thing feels big, risky, adventurous, unknown. I’m into small, safe, comfortable and controlled.

One of the main reasons we’re doing this road trip is to force ourselves outside of our norm. Get beyond comfort and see who we are. It’s scary, my friends. It has forced me to look hard at myself and our life and believe that God has more for us than I could even imagine. My small, worrisome, eyes-on-myself thinking does me no good and I’m thankful for the reminder that I can look up and outward, trust that we are following a dream God has placed in our hearts and that we will be better in the end for taking the leap.

I have so many things to share about our trip planning process, what we’re packing, what vehicle we finally decided on … and I’ll do all of that in upcoming posts. For today, I’ll end this rambling with a few more bullet points:

  • So far we’ve booked travel all the way through New York. We have about one month left to figure out and 9 days left to get it done. Wish us luck.
  • I am not a big fan of shorts and in the pacific northwest, I can generally get by with only wearing them a few times each summer. This summer, however, I’ll surely be living in as minimal clothing as appropriate #summerinthesouth #humidity #wemightmelt I bought these and wore them this week to wash the car. They are super comfy and should work well for our outdoor activities.
  • One of the places I’m most (unexpectedly) excited to visit is this historic inn + farm in Albuquerque, New Mexico. It will be a welcomed retreat after 2 weeks of camping and hiking in the Arizona/Utah/Colorado desert.
  • This art print will be the only thing adorning the walls in our trailer. I bought it over a year ago in preparation for this experience. How perfect is it?!
  • A few have asked what my work will look like while on the road … I’ll blog as much as possible. Obviously there won’t be craft or decorating content to share so hopefully you will enjoy following along on our trip instead :) My goal is to post everyday on instagram (minus the days we have no internet) and a few times per week on the blog. Classes will run this summer – Penmanship opens in May, Graphic Design opens in June – and Paper Works and Maker+Ink will continue to do their thing. We’re so, so grateful that this internet business allows us to take it with us wherever we travel.
  • Three out of four kids have been home sick in the last week. For several days. One had strep, two have some other fever/sore throat thing that is not strep. As much as I’d like the kids to finish out their last few days of school at school, I am quite thankful that they are getting the yuck out of them now.
  • I’ll leave you with this: I’m seriously considering a fanny pack.

Thanks for letting me ramble. Off to go check something off that list …


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coffee chat video no.2

Last time I tried out a video coffee chat it was such a hit that I decided to give it a go for a second time.

If you’re newish around here, a Coffee Chat is a type of random blog post where I talk about all the little things that might come up in a conversation if we were visiting over lattes in a coffee shop. You know, the wide assortment of topics that ladies tend to ping-pong around on. Some deep, some not-so-much.

Today’s coffee chat is true to its random form. Maybe even more so because right before pressing record, I got the most terrible headache which made me even fuzzier than normal. My thoughts and words are not my best, you can see blotchy marks on my neck from me trying to massage it away, my hair is haphazard and I have a glaring pimple on my chin! But, hey, like I say at the end of the video, if you can love me at my worst then I know you’re the real deal :)

So here you go, a little coffee chat for your day …




desktop with floral journal, velvet ribbon and coffee / jones design company

simplified penmanship - a workshop to help you improve your penmanship and develop your lettering style / jones design company

madeleines cafe and patisserie

  • MADELEINE’S CAFE in Spokane, Washington. I had a scone one morning and an apple/huckleberry-filled croissant the next. Both were heavenly.

Thanks for watching!

Two requests:

  1. If you have any audio books or podcasts that might be good for our family (boys ages 12, 10, 8, girl age 6), please share in the comments!
  2. If you have a topic you’d like to chat about in an upcoming coffee chat, please let me know.

xo. emily

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who am i?

I sat on the beach, tears streaming down my cheeks, asking the hardest question I could think to ask: WHO AM I?

IMG_7131 Towards the end of our trip to Hawaii last spring, I just needed a moment to myself. Just me. And God. On the beach.

I get this way sometimes; it’s the true introvert in me. After months of being ignored due to daily routine and busyness, my introspective self yells, Stop the madness! Take a deep breath! Slow down! Attend to your soul!

This time felt bigger, though – more important and more urgent than ever before. Like I had been putting of some real soul-attending for a long time and that time had come.

I knew all of this would catch up with me. While in Rwanda nearly two years ago, my friend Jennie asked tough, pointed questions and kindly called me out.

It sounds like everything in your life right now is good”, she said.

But what if it could be better? What if really digging into all these insecurities and questions could result in something even greater than you could even imagine? Maybe it’s time to let go of good.”

I came home with every intention to dig in and search for better and instead just jumped back into regular, everyday, good life.

Thankfully, God didn’t let me stay there. He grabbed my attention one year later on that warm evening in May and began the gentle undoing that is leading to better.

I sat there on the sand listening to the rhythmic crashing of the waves for a long time. Praying, crying, thinking, searching, breaking. I’ve been in that praying-crying-thinking-searching-breaking spot ever since, continuing to ask the question:

Who Am I?

After nearly nine months of introspection (which, by the way, hasn’t stopped since that day on the beach. It’s been a big, hard, heavy, messy year) I’m one step closer to finding an answer.

I’m slowly reading/working through a book titled The Search for Significance. I’m not typically drawn to Christian living/self-help non-fiction books, but this one resonated with my from the beginning and I’m pretty desperate to heal and grow, so I’m doing it.

There is a statement that is repeated throughout the book – truth that I know in my head but haven’t fully believed in my heart. This approval-addict, affirmation-seeking girl needs these words to sink in and take root. These are words that bring freedom. That offer hope. That deliver grace and kindness. That hit to my core and are so hard to wrap my stubborn head around.

It is the absolute antidote to the performance-based acceptance lie I’ve held onto.

And it answers my big question.  Who Am I?

I am quote / jones design company There it is, right there.

I can add nothing to it. I did nothing to deserve it.

For a girl who gets a whole lot of meaning from doing, striving, performing, this truth feels like freedom. It is lofty and vague and intangible and I don’t quite like that (I want a check list! A to-do list! Actionable steps I can do), but it is just what my soul is craving.

I’m trusting that as I sit in this deep place of seeking, good will come from it.

Actually, I’m believing for even better.

double-line-tiny This journey I’m on (and maybe you are to?) is about discovering who God says I am and replacing subtle lies with this great truth. If you find yourself in a similar spot, first of all, know that you are not alone. Second, dig in. It is hard and what you’ll find might be ugly, but it’s worth it. And finally, let this truth about who you are sink in. You are deeply loved, completely forgiven, fully pleasing, totally accepted and complete in Christ. #goodnews

I made that little print up there for myself to keep as a reminder. I have in on the wall above my desk to keep my eyes and heart focused. I thought you might enjoy it, too. There are two per sheet, so feel free to download and print, keep one for yourself and share the other with a friend.

Free I Am art print / hand-lettered by Emily of Jones Design Company

The art print is in THE ARCHIVE along with all of our best free prints, templates and fonts.  If you are not an Archive member, simply add your email to the list and you’re in.


I would love to hear what this statement means to you. Feel free to comment below or snap a photo of your print and post to instagram. Be sure to tag me (@jonesdesigncompany) so I can hear more of your story. xoxo.

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Coffee Chat (video edition!)

How about a little something different for this version of coffee chat …

Mentioned in the video:

smorescake My mom/grandma’s butter crunch cake recipe:

butter crunch cake recipe / jones design company

Note: it is a small rectangular layered cake and will not look like the top photo. But it will taste 100x more delicious. 

The Kevin who is mentioned at the bottom is my uncle who had ALS and this was a cookbook friends and family made as a fund raiser. Just FYI.

Hope you enjoyed the chat! xo.

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learning how to be kind to myself

Be Kind chalkboard art in kitchen / jones design company Be Kind. 

The quality I admire most in others, the one character trait I wish for our children and the word I’d love for our family to be defined by is kindness.

My friend just told me this weekend that in a study of what makes marriages last, the biggest factor was kindness. Honesty, communication, love – these are all good things. Kindness is like all of these wrapped into one. It’s defined as the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate.

Isn’t that the type of person you want to be around? That you want to be married to? That you want your children to be?

Flowers from The Bouqs / get $10 off your first order at jones design company I would say I’m a kind person – at least most of the time. I am friendly. I am mostly generous. I try to be considerate.

orange ranunculus and kale flower arrangement / jones design company At barre class a few weeks ago, I had this sweet moment with God. I became aware that although I am kind to others, I am terribly mean to myself. I say critical, inconsiderate things in my head without even realizing. I tell myself I must be perfect. That if I’m not perfect, I’m a failure. That I need to do more and strive more and work harder to prove my worth. That if I’m not able to do it well, I should not even try.

I actually say these rude things to myself! Things I would never say to a friend and words I don’t even believe to be true.

Orange ranunculus flower bouquet on desk / jones design company I love that the Lord opened my mind to recognize the ways I am unkind to myself. It has become a theme these past few weeks and a message I keep seeing/hearing time and time again.

Be kind. To others. And to yourself. 

orange ranunculus flower arrangement and yellow mums / jones design company Being kind to myself looks like a lot of things:

+ speaking truthful words to myself instead of critical lies

+ accepting my body and being grateful for strength and health instead of focusing on the flaws

+ filling myself with healthy, nourishing food instead of eating junk and then feeling even worse

+ taking time to quiet my soul instead of rushing through and keeping busy

+ laughing instead of taking life so seriously

+ spending quality time with my family instead of being half-engaged

orange ranunculus flower arrangement and yellow mums / jones design company While ordering flowers for my grandma last week (I like to do this for her every few months just to make her smile. See?! I can be kind!) I saw these orange ranunculus.

Orange ranunculus would look so bright and cheerful in our house, I thought. It’s so gray and gloomy outside and a bouquet of pretty flowers sure would make me happy.

So you know what I did? I decided to splurge on myself as an act of kindness and I ordered those orange ranunculus. It was such a good decision.

Just one little way I’m learning to be kind to myself.

I think I could get used to this.

What have you done for yourself lately as an act of kindness? I’d love to hear …

double-line-tiny P.S. I ordered the flowers from The Bouqs. This is my second time ordering from them and I’ve been so happy every time. Sending flowers can be ridiculously expensive and the arrangements are not even good! This is not the case with The Bouqs. They have classy bouquets and pretty flower/greenery combinations and shipping is free. So the next time you need to order flowers for a friend, your grandma or yourself, The Bouqs gets my stamp of approval.

Get $10 off your first order with this link.

(I spent my own money on the flowers and will definitely order again. These links are referral links so when you click on the link, I’ll earn a small commission. Much love to you if you do :) )

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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:


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!


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.


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


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:


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.


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:


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.


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.


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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the beauty of an unmade bed

the beauty of an unmade bed / jones design company

This week is Make Your Bed week hosted by Crane + Conopy, an online resource for gorgeous bedding at affordable price points. They generously sent me a new white duvet and shams with handsome gray piping detail (see it here) which looks so crisp on a bed – made or unmade.

My plan with this post was to show you how I make my bed. What sheets I use (these) and how I like to layer a thin quilt (like this) for texture and warmth and how adding the perfect white duvet just adds that extra cozy, luxurious touch.

And then I caught a glimpse of my unmade bed and had this deep metaphorical moment and thought I’d share that with you instead.

Before, let me just say that I really do like a crisply made bed. And I really like white bedding (as shown here). And I appreciate companies like Crane + Canopy that make buying nice bedding basics simple and affordable.


I’ve always been a bit of a i-dotter and t-crosser.

As a child I liked my dolls lined up and my penmanship precise. There is a preschool class photo from 1982 with a smiling little red-head sitting up nice and tall with ankles crossed, hands folded, hair perfectly ringleted. It’s so typical of me. I like a tidy room, drawers all the way pushed in, dishwasher loaded just so (I’m embarrassed to admit I’m one of those).

I like a made-up bed with top sheet flipped down over a thin coverlet, a wrinkle-free duvet neatly folded at the foot of the bed, pillows all propped up in a row. I like the kids to stay off of it once it’s made and I like the feeling of walking into my room at night, pulling back the smoothed covers and snuggling in.

If my bed is made each morning, it makes me feel like my life is in order. If the rest of my day feels out of control or messy, at least my bed is crisp and put together.


But lately, I’ve noticed I haven’t been quite as regular with making the bed.

I was in my bathroom the other day putting on makeup or doing my hair or something and glanced out the doorway into our bedroom. This is what I saw:


A rumpled bed with covers haphazardly thrown back, pillows not at all symmetrical or stacked neatly, bedside tables filled with books and water glasses and bobby pins, curtains half-opened, the rod all off-centered.

And what I saw did not make me feel out of control. It did not compel me to quickly smooth the duvet or straighten the pillows or fix the curtains.

What I saw looked like life. 

It looked like a welcoming spot to rest my body each night.

It looked like a quiet place to refresh my soul each morning.

It looked lived-in. Not staged. Not perfect. Not made just-so with hospital corners and starched cases and rules to stay off. It was messy and loose and approachable.

And it looked beautiful.

This may be a stretch taking cues on life from a moment of glancing at an unmade bed, but it resonates with my heart.

There is truly nothing wrong with making a neat bed or keeping a tidy house or hanging your clothes by color. These are lovely qualities that make for more organized and less chaotic household.

Yet in that moment of looking at my rumpled bed, I saw such beauty.

I want my heart to be a little more like that unmade bed.

Welcoming. Graceful. Comforting. Refreshing.

That is the beauty of an unmade bed.


Thank you to Crane + Canopy for the crisp white duvet and shams. It is the perfect backdrop for doing life. For more on making a nice bed, click here.

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coffee chat (scatterbrained edition)

Friends. My brain has turned to mush this week.

First of all, the sky turned dark and it rained for the first time in what seems like months. And when it gets all gray and gloomy around here, it makes you extremely sleepy and unmotivated and blah. So I’ll give credit to the weather for most of my unorganized-can’t-keep-anything-straight mind-frame.

Second, my best friend and her family are here visiting.

kc visiting

And when your best friend and her husband and her three kids are staying in your house, everything else that might be considered important (like filling out the stack of paper work for the kids’ back to school) gets pushed ’til the very last minute. Playing at the park, going out on dates and staying up late to play cards is way more fun than prepping for the first day of school.


But you know what having out-of-town guests does motivate you to do?

too many pillows! / jones design company

Clean out your overstuffed pillow closet.

pillow closet

I might have a small problem with pillows. I just can’t stop. I try to just switch out the covers and use the same down inserts (hence all those white pillow forms), but what do you do when the pillow you like already comes with an insert and there is not a zipper? Cut it apart and add a zipper and then use one of your existing pillow inserts? That just seems too difficult. So I just choose the pillows I want for each season and stack/throw the extras in this upstairs closet and call it good.  I got rid of a bunch, but I’m thinking I need to whittle down my collection even more.


There are more things to share, but first … one item of business:


The graphic design class is open for registration. Actually, there are now TWO graphic design classes. The first is called Illustrator for Beginners and is a great introduction to Adobe Illustrator. The second class is brand new and walks you through a bunch of super fun Projects + Techniques to take your skills to the next level. You can take each one individually, or register for both at once and save $20. Registration will be open for a few more weeks, so grab your spot before it closes!



Okay, so we were talking about mushy brains and pillows and my bestie. Let’s also talk about how fun these new Starbucks sleeves are.

coffee seahawks

We sure do love our Seahawks! Hence, my chalkboard.

seahawks schedule on chalk board / jones design company

(Here’s the original diy for this little gem of a piece that proves to be very useful come football season and beyond).


Speaking of football season, next week is a big blog hop of fall house tours. Mine is set for Monday the 14th, so I did some styling and fluffing and photographing yesterday to prepare. Here’s a little sneak peek:

fall fireplace mantle / jones design company

I’m calling it my early fall home decor. I’m not ready for deep colors and thanksgiving-y things quite yet. I’m still mourning that summer is over and my baby is in middle school and my littlest baby starts kindergarten in 4 days. And mostly I’m mourning that I have to set an alarm and be out of bed in the six o’clock hour. Me and six o’clock are not very good friends yet.


A few more things:

Alright, time to stop chatting. It was fun!


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Four years ago: blogs are like …

Sometimes I look back at the post archives on the blog and think it’s fun to see what was going on one year, two years, even four years ago to the date. When I came across this post from August 15, 2011, it felt like a good one to bring back for today.

We’re all pretty aware that life shown on blogs and social media is not a perfect representation of reality and the conversation about comparison and appearances has been ongoing. But it’s still a great conversation to have.  And even though this post was written at a time when there was no such thing as instagram, pinterest and twitter certainly wasn’t as big a thing, the struggle is still real, if not even more in our faces every day.

The comment number on the original post from 2011 is among the highest of any post I’ve written, so I assume it hits a cord with a few of you :)

So let’s go back a few years and take a peek at the post:


originally published on August 15, 2011

I write a blog. And I do love it.

But before I was a blogger, I was a reader of blogs. Lots of them.  And I still am.

My intention with this post was to share a list of the blogs that I love – and that will come – but I feel this need to share something else instead. Something not quite as fluffy as blogs I love, but probably important to say since it’s been on my heart for quite some time.

Comparison. Insecurity. Self-righteousness.


My best friend says that blogs are like pornography for women. Now don’t be offended. I know that it’s a pretty raunchy comparison, but bear with me. The thing about pornography that traps so many is the lure of something almost reality.  The women are gorgeous and tight, they’ll say what you want to hear and do what your wildest dreams could only imagine. They give you promise of something so good, but always leave you feeling inadequate, let down, and unsatisfied with your true reality.  And yet that promise is so tantalizing, you keep coming back for more.

The same can be true of blog-reading. It all looks so good and attractive, is inspiring and encouraging (even addicting), but you often walk away feeling inadequate, let down and unsatisfied with your true reality.

We get so absorbed in and enchanted by the life of whosever blog we’re reading that when we step back from the computer and look around at the beautiful mess that is our real life, we feel like we don’t measure up.

How many times have I had these thoughts :

I wish I was as creative as Ashley.

If only my house looked like Erika’s.

I will never be as full of wisdom as Angie.

Or as chic as Seleta.

Or as clever as Kasey.

Or as good a mom as Meg.

and on and on and on.

I don’t know these ladies, but in my few interactions with them I can say that none of them intend to make others feel this way.  They are beautiful women who are simply sharing their lives.

But this is the problem with blogs. We present what we want to (typically only the best of life) and put on a front that we have it all together. Of course that is what I want to write about. Who wants to read about my bad hair day and the bad attitude that followed? Or the frustration I feel when I just want to eat my own breakfast and wish my children would leave me alone for five minutes!? Sometimes posts like that happen, but the majority of them are happy, clean and pretty.

What breaks my heart, sweet reader, is that in my attempt to share the best of my life with you, perhaps I have left you feeling somehow inadequate.

That your home doesn’t measure up. Or your talents. Or your children (or lack thereof).

And that is truly not my intention.

My maiden name is Jones and I find it quite ironic that my biggest struggle of all is comparison.

You know, the whole keeping up with the Joneses thing?

Oh, how I am completely aware of it in my own life.

It is a constant struggle for me to be able to look at other’s successes and be genuinely happy for them without that little nudge of insecurity to creep in.  And on the other side, it is a challenge for me to look at my own successes and not feel like I am somehow better than another.

To be in that place where I am fully confident in who God made me to be and have no need to compare myself is where I am headed, but I am not yet there.

I read this devotion to my children months ago and it has stuck with me:

“Stop comparing yourself to other people. When you compare yourself to others, you end up either feeling that you’re better than they are, or feeling bad about yourself. Neither of those things is what I want for you.

I created each of My children with unique talents. And I have given each of you your own road to follow. So it is useless to compare yourself to someone else – that person has a completely different path to follow.

When you want to feel good about yourself, remember how much I love you. Remember that I made you just the way I want you to be. And remember that I died so you could have My salvation. You are a jewel in My crown.”

Isn’t that good? Written for little ones, but pierces my soul with its truth.

So this is what I am trying to say …

I love reading blogs. There are so many ridiculously creative, talented, wise women who I am daily inspired by.  And I want so much to be able to leave their little corner of the web feeling encouraged rather than defeated. That is a decision that is completely up to me. It is all about confidence : knowing who I am and whose I am.

At the same time, I want my little corner that is Jones Design Company to be a place where you can also come to be encouraged and inspired.  I try my best to be my genuine self and I hope you know that while I try to be as honest as possible, this is not the perfect representation of me and my life.  I am terrible at making meals. My closet is a wreck. I like crass jokes and am very goofy in real life.  I cry at stupid things (like the beluga whales doing tricks at the zoo) and I haven’t showered in a few days.

I love reading blogs. And I will share with you a list of some of my favorites. But I just wanted to get it out on the table that sometimes I struggle mightily with feeling insecure when I read these blogs.  I’m not sure if you feel the same way, but I’m guessing that since women can be very insecure creatures, perhaps you can identify.

But just remember (and I say this to myself as well) that you were made to be you. Not Ashley or Meg or Seleta (who are all delightful, I am sure), but just you.

You are a jewel in His crown.

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a day trip to mt rainier

Exploring Mt Rainier / jones design company

Ryan and I took the boys on a day trip to Mount Rainier this weekend.

You know how it is when you live somewhere and take certain places for granted and skip out on doing the ‘touristy’ things because you aren’t a tourist? This was one of those things.

But Ryan has summitted the mountain twice (he’s kinda amazing) and we were Audrey-less for the day (because let’s all admit that hiking with a 5 year old girl is not the easiest) so it was the perfect chance to do something fun and outdoorsy with the boys.


The south entrance to Mt. Rainier is about two hours from our house – a beautiful drive through little towns that are in the middle of nowhere and I always wonder what draws residents to choose to live there. You get to the Mt. Rainier National Park entrance which is about 2500 feet above sea level and can stop off at lots of different turn-offs along the way up.

We stopped for lunch and hiked down to the Nisqually River bed, which is remarkably low as a result of our way below normal snow levels this winter.  The river water is all murky looking because it is from a glacier and is filled with tiny particles of bedrock (read the actual description here if you’re interested) and is super chilly even on a summer day. The top of the mountain peeked out through the clouds every once in a while and is seriously breathtaking up close.


After lunch, we ventured on to Paradise – an area at about 5000 feet above sea level with a visitors center, picnic areas and hiking trails. This is the point where the real hikers take off from, but also great for just day trips. If you hit it right, Paradise is filled with wildflowers. We were a little late for those, but it was still so pretty.

Like I said, Ryan has done the big hike twice before and it was so fun to hear more about the specifics of his trips: the gear he used (40 lbs worth), how long it took (4 hours on the snowfield, sleep until midnight, hike to the top and summit at 7am, then hike all the way back down), what the top looks like (a crater you walk across to sign a book. On a very clear day, you can see all the way to Seattle). Needless to say, we were all super impressed with him.

We hiked the trails up for a bit until we were all winded. This hiking mountains thing is not for the faint of heart.


One of my favorite parts was seeing so many different people speaking so many different languages. I forget what an amazing thing this 14,410 ft mountain is. It truly attracts visitors from around the world.

Once we made it down, we stopped in this teeny, tiny town for ice cream, sat for a moment on a chair lift-turned-swing then made our way back home.

I’m so glad we took the day to explore this part of our home state. It makes me excited to find the next ‘touristy’ thing to do with the kids!

Have you done anything fun around your home this summer? Please share!

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coffee chat No. 42

I made up that number. I’m not sure why.

If you’re new around here, sometimes I like to do what I call COFFEE CHATS. This is where I just spew all the little stuff out at once – kinda like if we were real life friends sitting around over a cup of coffee and hitting every random topic we could think of. You know, all those odds and ends that sit at the top of our brains and come pouring out if given the chance.

So that’s what today is: a conversation (albeit a bit one-sided. Sorry about that) between girlfriends about all the random things.


First up, let’s talk about winners!

Last week was our big summer art print sale and whew! you all stocked up. Thank you, thank you, thank you for your support of our little art shop. It seriously makes me blush to hear all your sweet words and receive orders for artwork I made. Who knew the little girl who wanted to be an artist (and a window dresser and a teacher and a talk show host) would end up getting to actually be an artist! It’s the best.  If you missed the sale and still want to order prints, use discount code GRATITUDE for 15% off.

Anyway, along with the sale was a fun giveaway of 10 prints of choice to one lucky winner.


Congrats Rebecca! An email has been sent and you get to choose 10 of your favorites for free!


We also did a giveaway with She Reads Truth for four winners receiving $30 in store credit.


Congratulations ladies! Your contact info has been passed on to the team at SRT and you’ll receive an email from them shortly.


Since we’re on the topic of winners, let’s talk about the best new thing I’ve eaten in a while.

chobani flip
This yogurt is like dessert (it probably should be considered dessert, but I like to call it a healthy snack). I first bought a pack at costco, but they don’t carry it anymore. So now I find it for way more money at Target. #wortheverypenny


A while back I was on a podcast with Jamie Ivey. It was such fun. If you haven’t had the chance to listen yet, you can do so here (we did episode #42 and #43). You’ll love Jamie’s show – all of her guests are interesting and kind and relatable.

Speaking of podcasts, I listened to a really good one yesterday from the Love + Respect show. I enjoy most of the podcast episodes because they are about marriage and God and life and hosted by a psychologist and pastor (father/son team), but this one hit me right where I’m at. God has me in a spot where my eyes are being opened to some ugly and hurt and un-truth in my heart and life and while it is hard to go through and a little bit painful, it feels so affirming to know it is all for His glory and is refining me and making me whole.

Ryan and I learned so much from reading the Love + Respect book and we go back to it often. If you haven’t read it, definitely add it to your must-read list.



Yesterday I invited myself (and the kids) over to my long-time friend Erica’s house. You might remember her lovely home from the Christmas house tour I featured last year. They’ve done so much work on their new house and this summer completed the most gorgeous backyard makeover. It’s like a dream. So she let us come over and we spent the day sweating in the sun, enjoying the view and watching seals pop their heads up out in the Sound.

I’m so thankful for her friendship. Do you have friends in your life that even if you don’t spend a lot of time together, you can always pick up right where you left off? There are no hurt feelings for going months without talking and you’re free to be yourself and do things like invite yourself over and bring store-bought cookies for dessert. She’s a gem and I’m grateful for this type of friendship.


A few weeks ago I repainted No.3’s bedroom.


We went with Revere Pewter by Benjamin Moore – a color I used in our mudroom and really like. It’s the perfect warm gray. For more Revere Pewter inspiration, check out all the love on pinterest.


Anything else?


I splurged on myself and bought this throw for fall. I found it for way less on another online shop, but this morning it is no longer available. Perhaps I bought the last one. If I find it again for cheaper, I’ll let you know.

We popped into a really cool coffee/tea/shop in Langley, WA (Whidbey Island) this past weekend. I was so inspired by the decor, the signage, the feel. If you find yourself in Langley, be sure to check it out.

My friend sent me this link for a house nearby that was renovated and looks just like what I’d want to live in.


Okay, I’ve talked your ear off. I’ll let you get back to business.

(Is there anything else you want to chat about? Let me know in the comments!)

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My daily bible reading routine

I haven’t been great at opening my bible these past few years. I’ll just put that out there from the start.

The reasons are legit – my kids wake earlier than I do, I’m just so exhausted by the end of the day, I’m not part of a formal bible study so I don’t know what to read. And yet, if I truly believe that what I believe is true, then God speaks and nourishes my soul through His Word and the thing I need most in my day is connection and openness to hearing God. Which comes through opening my bible.

A little over a year ago, I discovered She Reads Truth and it has changed my daily bible reading routine.

She Reads Truth started as a small group of internet friends holding each other accountable to get into God’s Word and has turned in to the most amazing resource for women all over the world.  They offer simple bible reading plans, regular studies to work through, an app that makes following along each day super easy and optional workbooks that double as journals.

So this is what my daily bible reading looks like:


I grab my bible (or two – I like my NIV study bible and The Voice for a different translation), my current She Reads Truth study workbook, a pen and my ipad.  I don’t have a set time, just when there is a few minutes of quiet when I can steal away to the front porch or living room couch or my bedroom. I’m learning to just tune the kids out because unless I get up very, very early, there’s just no avoiding their sweet presence in my life (do you hear a hint of sarcasm?!).

Whatever the current SRT plan is, I follow along. I like to use their app, but you can follow each study for free on their site (or get them sent to your email each day). I find that I can’t keep up with the everyday – I miss a day here or there and so I like using the app to keep track of where I left off.  This usually means I’m behind a little, but I’m okay with that.

I used to just read the scripture, read the devotion and maybe pray for a second. But my best friend challenged me to use the workbook to write down prayers, thoughts, insights and since starting that a few months ago I find I get so much more out of each day’s lesson.  It makes me pause for a little longer, forces me to write which makes me think and I’ve had such soul-satisfying times with the Lord because of taking those few extra minutes to linger. Plus, I can go back and see what He was speaking to me and how prayers have been answered and where I’m still growing.

I’m so thankful for my friends at She Reads Truth who help us busy ladies get into God’s Word.

I asked my friend Raechel if we could do a giveaway of their newest study and she was so generous! We’re giving away a $30 store credit to FOUR lucky ladies. You can use it for the upcoming This Is The Gospel study, or any of the previous ones (may I recommend Fruit of The Spirit? I designed the art, but also the study was SO GOOD). Enter the giveaway below.

We also have a discount code for JDC readers:

Enter EMILY15 at checkout for 15% off anything in the

She Reads Truth shop

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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