Thursday, November 30, 2017

Thankful Thursday ✽ Christmas Time is Here


We decorate our Christmas tree on Thanksgiving.... but then we decorate our Snowflake tree after the rest of the house has been switched over to Christmas decorations afterwards.


Emmi decided she was more fun to decorate than the tree was ;).


It was Noah's turn to put the "little tree" topper on! Love it...


He clapped for himself with us!


After you've had a busy day having Christmas with extended family and walking around the zoo to look at lights, and you come home exhausted and hangry even though your Grandma kept you supplied with fruit snacks, and even getting in your comfy pjs and eating a slice of cheese can't help... laying on the hard kitchen floor and eating chocolate while sipping your beloved milk is the perfect way to relax if you are a Noah. And holding hands. That helps too <3. Sweetie!

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Happy, Merry Christmas time, y'all! It may still be November... but just barely. We celebrated Christmas with extended family this week, plan on decorating our room tomorrow, and it's the last Thursday before December... so, this post will be my Thankful Thursday Christmas addition ;). Can you believe that Christmas is in 25 days? I had planned to get waaaaay into Christmas prep this week, because I don't want to be rushing at the last minute again... but I'm also trying to get caught up on EVERYthing else, because I know I won't have time to do so while I'm doing all these Christmas activities, and don't want to worry about them. So that didn't work out very well... ha. I have 3 orders from my shop to make this week, and December was my shop's best month last year, so I'm determined to stay on top of things, this year! I've mostly finished planning and have set goals... now just to stick to them ;).

(After having said that... I got distracted looking up the Christmas crafts I want to make with the girls tomorrow. I made a list so I wouldn't forget. After that, I started remembering where I had decided that I needed to put some of the things. Then I realized I needed to think about how I could fit some stuff on our desk. I re-arranged said desk, then went through the books on my wall shelf. Now I have a stack of things to put away sitting on my bed, and am no further in my day's blog post. I'm really good at sticking to goals. *will finish blog post now* ... hmmm, lunch...)

Through this week and looking forward to the coming weeks, I am thankful for...

Time spent with family - Enjoying my cousin James' first Christmas time with him - The fact that come next year he will have a little BROTHER joining us!!! - Christmas lights - How much Joey has gotten into Christmas... I love that little guy <3 - Hot cocoa in the early morning as I read my bible, or during quiet time as I spend some time with my siblings - Christmas stories and books - Christmas cookies - Dark chocolate, because Christmas time does not feel like it's really here yet until you have had a dark chocolate kiss... dark chocolate is my favorite, but it's still 3 times better at Christmas somehow - Christmas songs - Getting to finally put together Christmas graphics for a ministry I do volunteer social media content creating for - An impromptu grilled cheese sandwich and chips after browsing shops and picking up my glasses with Mama - The cute boots Mama bought me yesterday <3 - Browsing through books together - Clearance finds - Reds and sparkles and cute typography - Catching up with people I haven't talked to much over the summer - The sweet lady who first taught me to create with my hands through her gift of knitting lessons. I find myself grateful to her every Christmas! That knitting led to crocheting... led to tatting... led to loving to create in any way possible, and now I can sew, transfer lettering, and quill (which I am strongly considering bring to my shop for "real"... would anyone be interested?) - To-do lists and goals... and the reminder that even if I don't get it done when I'd LIKE to, doesn't mean that I can't get it done by when I NEED to - Sitting down to a good book just because it's Christmas and I want to make a little more time to stop rushing through things that can wait if it has to (::cough, cough:: continual Etsy reconstruction... whyyyyyy. They've changed the system again, according to the people in my teams and groups...) - Noah's little hand waving and voice asking me to "come on!" - All my notebooks and pens and pencils, bibles and books available around me - Traditions and "just for fun" activities - Little one's excitement at getting to do something they have looked forward to - The kindness of the stranger at the zoo, who, though he had already cleaned the koala exhibit and was locking up, let us take a peak inside because he heard that some of us had hoped we'd make it in time to see them. And they were AWAKE AGAIN. I think the zoo changed their diet this year, because I've never know koala bears to be this active ;)!

What are some of the things you have been thankful for this month? What Christmas activities are you working on this week? Has someone done a kind act for you lately :)?

Rejoicing in Hope,
Bri

Monday, November 27, 2017

Christmas is Coming ✽ Grace is the Reason


One of my favorite things is a cup of something delicious early in the day and creating and designing <3! The past couple of years, we have done little pepper cups with turkey wrappers at lunch. The first year I thought it was just a fun thing we were doing, haha... the second year I didn't realize we were doing it until it was lunch time, and they didn't even turn out that cute, ha. So THIS YEAR, I set aside some time the morning before to make them cute and reusable! I designed this little turkey with elements from three turkey examples I liked (with a little touch of my own as well), and then I SCANNED it, rather than tracing it 11 times like I did last year ;). Now we can print multiple sheets of three out each year and the little ones can color them themselves, so they can be involved! These turkeys are really cute after you put the bell pepper "tail" behind them :). Tori had to take her's a step further... it ended up with eyelashes and impressive coloring, and yeah, she's the artist... I don't know why I'm the one who did this ;)...

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving <3! We had a truly wonderful one. As I shared in my post that day, things didn't go perfectly... but it was full of more blessings and reminders of the gifts I've been given than I could have asked for <3. It was a wonderful day.

The time since has been busy and happy as well. I've had sales going on in my Etsy shop, and been making gifts and cleaning and planning Christmas. We had Mama's family over last night; Grandpa and Grandma, Aunt Tessa, Aunt Amber & Uncle Jason and little James, who isn't nearly as little as he was last time I saw him!

We had a pizza party and exchanged gifts, and we went to the Lights Before Christmas display at the zoo. It was so fun to spend that time with them! Josiah's favorite light display was this 3D zebra... he had to make sure Daddy saw it, and when Daddy let him know that "Yeah, that's cool!", Josiah let him know "But it's not real." We can't let that be confused ;)... And we think maybe they forgot to turn off the Boo at the Zoo recordings. We've never been, so we can't say for sure... but we hit the end of the "cave" exhibit, and SOMETHING started screaming (Daddy and Grandpa stuck around and determined it wasn't the lemurs as Mama thought originally), and most of us just ran for it. I knew it was completely ridiculous, because you could "tell" everything was fine, but I seriously was envisioning part of the wall falling, it was so loud and unexpected, and I was pretty sure it wasn't lemurs, ha! That was more than enough excitement for us ;).

Grandma commented a couple of times on the fact that one thing has changed dramatically since last year... over half of us are now at about the same height. It was sooooooo confusing. In all the past years (well, since Andrew was born, anyway) we've had a bunch of little people in the group. This year, although there are still quite a few little ones, even Andrew has almost hit our average height, and I was NOT finding enough small people when I would try to make sure we had everybody! That's one I'd really not thought of until it happened...

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I was reading John 11 recently, with the story about the death and resurrection of Lazarus. I have heard someone say once that there must have been something about that family that we don't think about when we read about them. That even though Martha was so "cumbered with much care" and had deep doubt seated in her heart; even though Mary was a follower to the point of questioning Jesus as Martha did, though she had sat at His feet so intently when things were going well; even though it is questionable that Lazarus was the real leader of the home in more than just social status, since he isn't mentioned in the most talked about story of the two sisters, and it is Martha who invites the Savior to the home; there must have been something about them, that the Lord loved them so much and loved their home out of all the ones in the area.

John 11:5... "Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus". And John 11:3... "So the sisters sent to Jesus, saying, "Lord, he whom you love is ill." John (the "disciple whom Jesus loved") and, as we learn from the narrative, Mary and Martha, were confident that Jesus loved this family. There was no question about this. But I don't think it was because this family had any better qualities than we see.

They believed in Christ and loved Him. Mary hung on his word; the sisters knew he was their only hope when they faced the fear of losing the loved brother who was their only means of support. But we get that from the story.

They were generous and hospitable. We see Jesus staying at their home in the story of Martha and Mary's choice of what to do with the time they were given, and we see him staying at their house during the passover in chapter 12, and I imagine they gave him a room when he came to raise Lazarus. They were kind and their door was open... but that is in the story, too.

So we see all that. You could say that maybe those qualities out weighted their shortcomings. Or you could say that maybe they did things that maybe we don't see in the story. Or you could say that it wasn't anything that they did at all.

It was simply the grace of God. He opened their hearts to His word, and he loved them as His children, for that's what they were... from no deed of their own, but just because of the grace and the love of our glorious Redeemer.

The same grace that is given to you and to me. The same grace that is the only means of our hope.

How thankful I am for this grace... and for that love.

Rejoicing in Hope,
Bri

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Thankful Thursday ✽ Happy Thanksgiving


It's been a wonderful day. Not without it's difficult moments, for it's still just a day on earth, of course. Some sickness, some bumps and bruises, broken washers and mistakes have all been included in our Thanksgiving. But the beauty of Thanksgiving isn't that it's a day when everything goes completely right, and we say, oh how wonderful is a break from our daily life filled with woe. No, the beauty of Thanksgiving is that no matter what happens, it's existence reminds us to give thanks for what God has blessed us with, no matter what may seem to go wrong, or how rough things may be. And it gives us a wonderful excuse -or reminder, whichever you want to consider it- to spend time with those we love <3.

In between reading Thanksgiving story read-alouds, baking, and eating goodies together with my family today, I'm trying to take time to dwell on the grace and mercy of the Lord in all the blessings he has given me this past year. This year... it didn't go like we expected. It especially didn't go as we would have hoped going into it. We still don't understand why some of the things we went through had to happen. But even these circumstances have been used for good and have brought hope with them. And through this trying year, the Lord has upheld us. I'm going to sit down to a table tonight around which will be ten of the people I love most in the world, and we'll have plenty of good food with which to nourish our bodies, and we'll have memories to look back on, and be making new memories together, as well. We'll clean up this big mess all this cooking creates, and then we'll gather in the living room to decorate our Christmas tree, with ornaments that directly point to Jesus, and we'll discuss their meaning.

I've also tried to make some time to text each of the people outside my family I care about most today, because I believe this day is the perfect time to remind people that we are thankful for them, as well. It's funny that I've often said it's a bit lonelier here then it was last time we lived here.. which is true, I don't have as many local friends. But as I was texting the people that I most especially wanted to know I was thinking of them; family, best friends, people who have gone out of their way to bless me this past year; I was reminded again of how blessed I have been with wonderful, encouraging, beautifully caring friends, even if they aren't very close travel-wise. And those were just the people I could text! There are some people at the churches I volunteer at and, yes, even our church that I still feel rather new to, that deserve thanks for the ways they have blessed us this past year as well, if I had only had their number. I've been immensely blessed with the people God has put in my life! And I am also thankful for you blog readers. Some of you are becoming friends to me as well, and thank you for caring about me and what is going on in my life!

Above all I am thankful for my Father in Heaven, His love for me, His patience with my slow-to-learn heart, and His rest for the weary spirit. And I'm thankful for a Savior who walks alongside us with such marvelous love, that He would give Himself over to death, that we need not live without Him.

"Come thou fount of every blessing
Tune my heart to sing thy grace
Streams of mercy never ceasing
Call for songs of loudest praise
Teach me some melodious sonnet
Sung by flaming tongues above
I'll praise the mount I'm fixed upon it
Mount of thy redeeming love

Here I raise my Ebenezer
Hither by thy help I come
And I hope by thy good pleasure
Safely to arrive at home
Jesus sought me when a stranger
Wondering from the fold of God
He, to rescue me from danger
Interposed His precious blood

O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I'm constrained to be!
Let thy goodness like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to thee
Prone to wander Lord I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love
Here's my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for thy courts above."

"I  will offer to you the sacrifice of thanksgiving and call on the name of the LORD." -Psalm 116:17

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Coffee Filter Leaves ✽ Yarn Pumpkins





A few weeks ago, I planned to spend my Saturday crocheting and listening to a documentary. Then Mama and Daddy took Andrew on his belated birthday zoo trip, and Josiah was distraught at being left at home without Mama... so we browsed Pinterest together for a few minutes, and then I gathered up a few supplies we had sitting around the house and we started crafting together instead!

The first thing we did was make coffee filter leaves, inspired by the Artsy Mama blog...





Josiah colored his entire coffee filter, then went over the whole thing again with a black marker... several times. It was so wet BEFORE we sprayed it that it was ripping, and you could barely see any color! But after we sprayed it, all the color came back up to the top?! albeit muted. We used parchment paper over the pan, just because I didn't want Mama's pans discolored. And we set the coffee filters to dry on paper towels because I didn't want the table stained (Emmi saved her napkin because it was just "so pretty"... haha!). I was soooooo careful; there was even paper under everybody's coffee filters so it wasn't a problem if they went over the edge, because I didn't want Mama coming back home to her furniture rainbow colored because I decided to be fun for once ;). Also, washable markers are nice, otherwise her baby may have ended up discolored too ;). Haha!

Of course, they had to dry - for hours, because some small people (::cough, cough:: Joey) were so heavy handed with the markers and water, that they were soaking, haha. And so after supper I traced this cute little leaf template Tori made me onto one of them with permanent marker... three times, because if I placed it perfectly, that's how many I could get out of each filter. And I picked it up to move it and work on another... and realized with horror that I had forgotten to put something under it, and the permanent marker had bled through with every. single. stroke.

Rubbing alcohol works wonders to get marker off the table, for your information. Haha! And three sheets of paper under the coffee filters steers clear of accidents. And I DID tell Mama about the table. I'm just glad I didn't have to tell her with it destroyed, ha...

Then we had to cut alllllll those leaves. Children's scissors work better than regular scissors on coffee filters... I found that out on the last coffee filter, of course. I should have asked Tori for a simpler template ;). But they were so cute when they were done! And now they are hung up over our closet door, and they make me happy, but you don't get a picture "in use" because our closet needs cleaned and one of the doors is down for repairs ;). It was interesting that, although they were just random color "clouds", Mama could tell which filter was who's! Tori asked why I didn't make they use fall colors... she's like "pinks?". So now I'm a stinker and point out every pink leaf I see, hahaha!





While we waited for the leaves to dry, we made yarn pumpkins! We used some of my gift cards as the wrapping card. I thought I lost either five bucks or a pumpkin for a couple minutes, because it was wrapped in there so tight that I couldn't get it off, haha! But it eventually cooperated ;). These were MUCH less hands on for the supervisor than the leaves were (I was able to clean up our leaf mess while they worked), but they seemed to go over well, anyway... everyone wanted to make another! I walked into the church I volunteer at last week, and everybody was making some of these. They curled the pipe cleaner into vines, though, instead of twisting it into a stem, and it was cute, so I think we'll do that next time :).

What are some simple but fun crafts you've done that you would suggest I try with my little crafting buddies next :)? Have you ever made coffee filter leaves? Because they really are gorgeous!

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Tis Grace is Needed ✽ Grace Alone


When darkness falls, the road grows dim,
And all around is dread of sin,
Hope and confidence becomes small and few.
Yet when Christ the Savior draws and cleanses,
'Tis at this moment, grace shines through.

When confidence runs sure and deep,
Self assurances cause grateful hearts to sleep,
And blinded hearts turn from the throne-
His mercy piercing through the shroud convinces,
Tis grace is needed; grace alone.

Through paths of sunshine, moon or shadow,
whether broken heart or joy defines the hour;
Christ's sacrifice, his love, free gift to me
Of righteousness, undeserved, on me bestowed,
Makes grace my only, worthy, lifelong plea.

"For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no man may boast." -Ephesians 2:8-9

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Thankful Thursday ✽ I Redesigned My Blog!


"What I need is a more grateful heart to the giver of every good and perfect gift." -Stonewall Jackson

Thankful today for... paper and pen, and nicely put together to-do lists (even if they mock me for how much I thought I could handle in a day, haha...) - that Daddy shared his photoshop kit with me, because I seriously use it all the time - for my laptop that I use to run my Etsy, my blog, and to keep up with all my long distance friends - for my bed, with it's new blue comforter and even newer blue sheets (I've wanted blue since I was ten, haha! But then I really liked some purple ones we found when Mama and Daddy bought our own house 8 years ago, so... yeah, this is a long time dream come true ;)...) - Daddy finding my fall outfits in the garage (that will teach me to switch out seasonal clothes... haha!) - a visit from Daddy's family last week - a working vacuum cleaner - lessons from the old testament - the special needs respite programs churches around here hold - nutritious food - "Anne of Avonlea" - natural hair cleaning methods - laughter - my water tumblers - salted caramel - to have finally posted my October wrap up post (Tori very correctly said, I might as well start November's... oh, it's been going for a week now, but it will probably still be late ;)...) - my new blog design :)!

 Soooooo, did anybody catch the new blog design yesterday :)?!!! If you haven't been around for very long, you might not know that I used to blog at "Home Life", rather than "Forget Not His Benefits". That blog was started November 3rd, 2006, and went through sooooo many changes and phases. And it's early years are honestly laughable now, but everyone starts somewhere ;). Some things, some personal preference and some due to unfortunate circumstances, made me decide to start afresh four and a half years ago, and I designed my new blog completely around an online blog background template, planning to never change it again.

Ha.

This summer, it grew legs and disappeared. Actually, I think the host site did something to it. But either way, I was distraught. My never redesigned blog was going to need some major redesigning, because I can't even find the old background anymore. It was left blank and ugly. Did I mention I've never liked the thought of a plain white blog? My own blog became one with no consent of mine overnight.

At first I though it was a glitch, like the few months prior when I could NOT view my own blog home page, even though y'all could. But it never came back, and I realized that I had to do something. I took down my header, because my family picture was outdated and it looked pathetic as the only thing designed on the page. I added some flower emojis just to center my title, but it aggravated me that on anything but my computer, it warped it so it wasn't really centered. It was a temporary fix, because I didn't know what I wanted to do with it. And then I kept blogging, and realized the flower emojis were actually showing up as my name, and it looked tacky. So I decided it HAD to get finished, and when I thought about it, you know what? I decided I like having a white blog. It might not be the cutest blog background ever... but it looks clean and neat, and it matches my mobile version. It doesn't look seasonal, and it can't disappear on me (if it does, my whole blog is gone, so I have bigger issues... hmmm, should back it up again...) And the best part to me was that none of my pictures clash with my background! I know that sounds silly, but it's the one thing about any blog design I've had that I have always hated, haha!

Sooooo, I designed the new header yesterday! I know it's very simple, but I actually like it better than the more involved ones I have done before, and it's in my favorite font, which is fun ;). I changed up my description, and my sidebar. My labels are down at the bottom now, where they can still be helpful if you want them, but they don't clutter what you are stuck looking at. Annnnd, I updated my "About Me" page (just added a new family picture, that if you've been around for a couple weeks you've already seen, and updated my age; hi, new followers, I'm actually 20, haha!). So, I just wanted to mention that. *eyes my screed* you have got to get better at the length of time it takes you to mention something, Bri...

And I was going to comment on the 18,500 pageviews y'all have given me, but it's already gone up, so oh well ;). Haha! Thanks for caring about my little home on the internet <3. Each of you readers bring me a smile!!!
 

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

October Review ✽ Hello November

Happenings (in pretty much no certain order, because none of it is connected anyway... just wanted to be honest, hahaha!):

-First, some Noah pictures for your viewing pleasure, because he brightens anything up...

Because I love the way he actually listens to me and 
carefully holds his banana with both hands so it won't 
break while he snacks while waiting for breakfast to finish
cooking, and his little feet are one of the cutest things ever <3. 

Because he utterly and completely fell in love with "puntins"
when Mama and I took the little boys to Hobby Lobby, and
it is literally the only round thing he has seen that he KNOWS
is different than a ball, heeheehee...
And because we listen to music together far less than we
used to, but it's still one of our favorite things to do <3.

And also, he found out that "balloon" has an L in it, so he no longer calls them "Boon", but, "Ballelelelelleooooon", hahahaha! Mama and I almost couldn't take it, it was worth wasting time standing still in Walmart just to stay by the balloon to hear it over and over, hahaha!

 -Tori celebrated her sweet sixteen birthday <3. We had a little party for her, and she and Mama went downtown to browse arts and cute shops! Tori is our artistic comedian... our sensitive no-nonsense supporter... rising to the occasion whether you need a laugh, some strategic witty affirmation, or a leaf template draw, hahha... or if she feels your Facebook feed or Blog needs a little livening up... don't worry, she has you covered there too, hahahaha! #chickenwings And, she blogs about her art off-and-on here, if you want to take a look ;)....

-We welcomed some adorable new family members... meet Misty & Dawn.
Misty is slightly more clumsy because she's prone to not being able to reach as far as she thinks, spends most of her time preening, and has an adorable little "necklace" around her neck that just happens to include a heart shaped spot. She was formerly considered to be the bolder of the two, but that wore off quickly, as Dawn got over the change and began to show her true colors, haha!
Even though Dawn's wings are still closely clipped, she can get up such a wind that she blows half of their loose feathers out of the cage, spends most of her time eating, and she's got the perfect light blue and grey color scheme. Definitely the more aggressive bird... but also the warmest to people (??? Or just isn't too afraid to show her disgust with her beak???). Now that she's figured out her home, she's nice to Misty, though, so that's a plus!
They both a.l.w.a.y.s. snack with us at quiet time. If we make popcorn or cookies or something and sit at the kitchen table to play a game, two minutes later we look up and they are at their respective feeders. Whether it's because it's finally quiet in the house, or what, I don't know, but I think it's just adorable. And I love their little noises when I get downstairs early in the morning to read my bible. They run to the top of the cage when they see me, though, so I'm not sure the feeling is mutual ;). They are most skittish in the mornings, I think because the noise level goes from 0 to 1... and then to an 11 within a minute, hahaha! Their first week here, they were getting used to noise in the day, but Andrew got up one morning and opened the dryer door louder than usual, and they pretty much fell off the perch, hahaha...



This is their definition of "exercise", hahaha...

 Um, I guess I was thirsty. That is the only reason for 
having so many full cups at one time. It was ridiculous, hahaha!

-Josiah went to the dentist, and he let them clean all his teeth without a single qualm! This was a big step for the little guy, since this miniature grandpa who isn't afraid of anything (except bugs in the bathroom and sneezing - poor allergy tortured little guy!) cried the whooooole time Peter got his teeth cleaned this spring, and it took Mama and I together working with him just to allow them to count his teeth and take a quick 2-minute look to determine outward oral health. Plus, he just looks cool in sunglasses, hahaha! He also looks adorable in sunglasses that he's taken the lenses out of, and it almost makes me wish he needed real glasses, although not really because I wouldn't truly wish that on somebody, hahaha. I did tell Tori though... it's almost a given, with the fact that my eyes are so bad, that I'll have a couple children with glasses, and I'm convinced it'll actually be the cutest thing ever. Am I mean?


-Abbi watched a five minute video of a rundown of teddy bear facts, and became OBSESSED with Theodore Roosevelt. She started a whole research project on him; devoured books on him, looked for facts about him and teddy bears, kept her findings cataloged, shared snippets of his life with one of us every time we turned around, even added his birth date to our family calendar, hahaha! We were all like, "Who has a birthday on the 27th?...." and someone eventually said it in front of Abbi, and she was like all offended we could have forgotten when she answered that it was for Teddy Roosevelt, haha. So Mama picked up some Teddy Grahams and let them have a little "party" to celebrate Theodore Roosevelt's day of birth ;). (Also; Abbi and Josiah's eyes glare terribly and somewhat scarily in pictures, hahaha! You'd think they were cats!)


-Daddy and I went in for our "yearly" eye exams.
The optometrist to Daddy: "So, after what we've just went through, I'm going to guess that these glasses do nothing for you."
"No, they are terrible, they have magnification and I was told I have 20/20 vision."
Optometrist: *studies them a little more* "Hmmm, that is a really random prescription."
*Daddy doesn't need magnification*
The optometrist to me: "Would you mind telling me what reason they gave for giving you bifocals?"
"They didn't give me a real reason... they just said it would be easier to adjust to them?"
"Hmmm... we'll talk about that."
*I don't need bifocals*
Which I am actually thrilled about, because, this means
1. It's just a good sign my eyes are adjusting well (assuming I really did need two visions before, which I am going to assume, since three different prescriptions from two different people called for them ;).)
2. ...okay, I frivolously am thrilled that it opened up new possibilities for the frames I can get, haha. See, I've always have to steer towards larger lens glasses, because I needed room for my two vision centers. Now, I only have the one; so I can look at frames that formerly would have been too narrow!
Also, a few years ago my eyes were as bad as -5 something, I think, and my left eye was worse (you could TELL my left lens was thicker than my right!). Now, they are only -4 something, and they are BOTH the same prescription :)!!! You will NEVER find me without glasses (my prescription, even improved, is still so bad that they will only give me Polyglass glasses, because it's the only way to cut down on how thick I need them, hahaha...), and I'm guessing the improvement I see from here on out will be smaller than it has been so far, just because I'm guessing the first few years would see the most changed, and it's been four years now. But I'm just kind of thrilled I'm down to a single prescription for all distances and both eyes!
I get chatty about glasses, okay? They changed my life. Sorry... Until you know what it is to be amazed that tree bark has so much texture at all, let alone from all the way inside, it's hard to explain the way it touches everything about your life, haha!

- We celebrated reformation day with a lot of little games and treats this year. Joey won some "Counsel of Worms" Gummy Worms for "nailing" the theses closest to the center of the door ;). Then we kicked off our Christmas holiday with Christmas music while chili cooked, and our customary first Christmas season movie night. That last bit was started to keep the house quiet so trick-er-treaters wouldn't know we were home... it's stuck, but thankfully we don't have many people stop by in the cul-de-sac! And Christmas is a lovely time of year, y'all <3. I'm so glad it's back ;).



-I blogged all. month. long... about selling on Etsy, of all things ;). It was a really neat thing to finish well... and I think it was definitely worthwhile. But I'll be choosing a far less demanding/narrow topic next year, hahaha! And won't work on my Etsy SEO at the same time. But, it helped me get back "into" blogging, and so if nothing else, I'm thrilled with that :). I was concerned about doing Write31 and then the GiveThanksx7 challenge back to back (the very reason I skipped Write31 last year), but KBR didn't hold the challenge this year. While I was disappointed, it's actually been wonderful to do it through my journal instead, so I'm confident it was for the best. And I'm glad I went ahead and did Write31, since the one reason I would have given it up ended up not existing! Also- I developed a ton of future Write31 themes, as I moaned about how I should have picked ANY other topic (because I felt too lazy some days to focus on putting together such technical details correctly), so I'm good for years ;). Hahaha! But I specifically chose this topic this year because I didn't want one I'd have to be actually emotionally open in, and it worked for that... so it was all good ;). It really was fun, now that I'm past that day 18-23 stretch, hahaha!

Laughing at:

As I make a crock pot meal, every time:
"PLUGGED IN, TURNED ON, LID ON."
I'm so tired of the meal not cooking, and at least once it was because someone unplugged it behind me, sooooo... everybody knows what I'm doing now ;)...

*Calmly playing Monopoly with older siblings* -like, "hadn't talked for a few minutes except to pay rent" sort of calm.
*Emmi lets out a fake/dramatic OUCH!!!! from the other room*
Sister across the table, awake and animated all of the sudden: "FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT!!!"
Glad that was as fake (but also just as dramatic) as the ouch, hahhaha....

*Our bathroom door won't unlock anymore*
Nothing like being gotten out of bed in the morning because a sibling didn't know and now they are stuck and you are the only one home who had any sort of success prying it open the night before, hahaha!

*Mama talking about how she always wins Monopoly*
Mama: "Unless Mom played, then she won."
Andrew: "It must be a mom thing."
Mama and I: "It's all that taking care of finances."
Andrew: "Hey Bri, get married and have kids so maybe you can win. You usually lose."

Daddy: "All Andrew could do was pay attention in the game. He couldn't pay money, because he had none."

Heard from the kitchen:
"Oh, cool, we can replace the boy's room door too. Daddy got two knobs!"
"Ummmm... you do know you need a door handle on BOTH sides of the door, right?..."
"Oh. Yeah..."

Peter, admiring the birds when they were first brought home: "Awww, they are scared. See? They're jiggling..."

Tori, standing right under the bird cage: *screams* "There is a bug!!!!!"
Birds: *screeching, scolding, flapping, terrified*
It was because Tori accidentally hit the cage when she jumped, but it sounded like it was because of the bug, haha. So Tori was like, "Sorry! Wait. You are BIRDS. EAT the bird!
....THE BIRD?!?!?!?! Hm, is that why we have two?
I meant eat the bug."

Josiah: "Ewwwww, Bri is making coffee with water in it!!!!"
And what else would I do?????

Bethi: "A'right, this could be bad for my future, but I'm 'onna do it."
I am relieve to say all she as doing was purchasing something in Monopoly (yes, we play it a lot), but it was concerning at first, hahaha!

*Tori and Andrew and I laughing in the boys room*
Bethi: *sails/crashes down the hall* "What'ch'a talkin' 'bout, huuuuuuuuhhhhh?!?!?!?"
Andrew: *jokingly locks the door before she can get in*
Bethani: I KID YOU NOT, JUST CALMLY WALKS INTO THE ROOM ANYWAY.
I collapsed laughing at this unexpected turn of events, and Bethi explains that "If you jiggle it just right it opens whether it's locked or not".
Guess that's why she said it needed replaced...

Tori: Ends up with four empty paper plates after trying to get somebody else to throw hers away.
Tori: Frisbee throws them all at once across the kitchen and gets three in the trash can.
I didn't know she could do that...

Reading:

-"Hostage of the Nighthawk" and "The Runaway's Revenge" by Dave and Neta Jackson. More of the stories in that collection I was reading last month. I still have another one in the book I forgot I hadn't read yet until I was checking the titles and realized I still know nothing about John Paton ;)...

-The book of John and some of the Psalms.

-I finished "The Valley of Vision". But it's still on my shelf, because Mama gave me this copy because it was highlighted in (even though it said like new condition, haha), and I plan on starting it over as soon as I get caught up with all the things I'm trying to complete right now, because it is literally just that encouraging y'all.

-The KBR magazines ;). Has anybody noticed that these end up on my list more often than they come out (once a season)? They are worth the subscription, y'all!

Quotes I liked:

"Autumn; the year's last, loveliest smile." -William Cullen Bryant

"I'm so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers." -Lucy Maud Montgomery

"If God is preparing you to make an impact on this world for His Kingdom, chances are he will take you through a season of solitude.This is a season when you learn that you can't lean on anyone but Him for your confidence and when you gain the strength to stand alone even when no one stands with you." -Leslie Ludy

"Trust in Him at all times, oh people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our Refuge." - Psalm 62:8

The Shop:
-Well, I spent all last month blogging about the shop. Honestly, I'm glad to have a tiny break, hahaha! But...
-We held a giveaway for my Romans 12 canvas!


-The custom canvas continues to be my best seller. Who wants one to give as a Christmas gift ;)?
-I realized that most of the people who order my custom canvas also want the text customized... so I added that as an option in my shop!
-I took more pictures, and found EtsyRank. Yay!


Fails:

*I hear a suspicious noise from upstairs*
"Josiah, come here!!!"
Josiah, sauntering downstairs like it was his decision, calm as a cucumber, he never could have been doing anything wrong, could he?...
"Josiah, are you playing with Andrew's (remote controlled) car up there?!??!"
Josiah, steady as anything: "No."
Well, he seems confident and sure... okay... "Alright, I just thought I heard it."
Josiah: "Oh, I was just... making the sound that it makes."
"Josiah!!!"
Josiah: *no longer looks as confident*

Um. My about me page was so outdated. And I just ran a major blogging event without giving it a thought. Ahh, well, such is the professionalism of me. *bangs head on my keyboard* hjdksrulbyuirbyieubryia

Grateful for:

-Our adorable little birds :).
-Getting to make some fall crafts with my younger siblings <3.
-All those who gave of themselves to make the truths of the bible known.
-The wonderful smells and temperatures and activities of fall!
-Sweet Tori!
-Christmas! Hahaha :).
-Monopoly ;).
-God's grace shown through preserving the saints of his kingdom.
-Hot cocoa.

"Bless the Lord, oh my soul... and all that is within me"...

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Thankful Thursday ✽ Little Things

We've had a busy day cleaning the house, but I wanted to take a minute and count my blessings and share a few glimpses of our life this past week :)...


Josiah has always loved to "play piano" <3. When he was Noah's age, I used to sit him on my lap while I played lead sheets in the key of C... haha. Nothing fancy, and so when I am asked if I could play piano, I always truthfully answer, eh, not really. Mama shared a picture of those sweet moments one time, and our "adopted Grandpa" in the Friendship Choir leaned forward one rehearsal, and told me, "I saw you playing that piano with that baby. Now you have to play for us someday." I don't think he believed me, haha... But, given that, I find it adorable that now Josiah plays with Noah <3.


Joe "Cool Guy" Siah helping the big people with some projects :).


I love this little face, with it's messy curly hair and sweet little nose!!!

Today I am thankful for the little moments...

time change, because I honestly love this schedule, sorry to those of you who don't, haha - Noah patting me and asking if I can pick him up - and calling up to me from the bottom of the stairs to ask if he can have m&m's for absolutely no reason, heehee - working on a bible reading schedule with some of my siblings, and being able to discuss what is happening "now" with the younger ones - Josiah asking me to come snuggle him before he goes to sleep - the feel of a warm cup in my hands in the early morning - putting pen to paper again, because for the past several months I've either been too overwhelmed or too busy to write, and now it's such a joy to bring it back - giving people nicknames as a form of affection - crossing items off my to-do list that has gotten far too long in the past couple months - Josiah, manly man that he may be, still climbing up for some snuggles like the little guy that he is - late night laughter with my sisters - Andrew's quirky grin when he knows I'm being a goose, but he doesn't want to discourage me - evening texts from dear friends - songs that encourage one in the Lord - Noah's sweet little voice singing along to a hymn  - seeing Peter becoming a little artist - the little boys in their matching pjs - answers to prayer - a family that will be there for me through thick and thin - reading through the bible and noticing little details I've missed so many times before... there is always something to learn - dear friends sharing their words of encouragement with others - being able to sit down and thank the Lord for all this and so much more on a otherwise hectic day <3.

Happy Thursday! What did you do today? What are you thankful for :)? What is your opinion on the autumn time change?

Monday, November 6, 2017

Using Etsy's Caculated Shipping Feature ✽ Step-by-Step with Screenshots


Hey y'all! I hope you are having a wonderful week :)! I was asked a couple questions about using calculated shipping on Etsy, and so I'm here to answer those today :).

 First off, you'll need some boxes and packing materials to pack your item to weight it correctly, and then you will need a postal scale to weight the packaged item. I have one like this, and it's worked great :). Whatever one you get should come with instructions on how to use it... but a couple reminders, whatever version you get...
-You have to place your scale on a firm, flat surface for it to work right (so, not on the carpet, your bed, or just balanced on your hand ;) ).
-And you have to have the box placed centered on your scale and NOT resting on anything at the edges, for the scale to be able to accurately measure the whole weight.
-Weight EVERYthing you will mail with your product (packaging materials, the box, the extra goodies you usually stick in, etc). That way the shipping is accurate to what you will pay once the item is ordered!

Alright. Get out the things you'll need...
  • Your product.
  • Package and packing material.
  • Your scale.
  • A measuring tape.
  • And your computer logged into your Etsy account!
-Fill out your regular listing information (title, description, tags, etc.)
-The very last section you will be filling out will be your shipping information. There is a drop down menu here that gives you the option to enter a standard price, or, for calculated shipping, to ask Etsy to "Calculate them for me"...



-Type the zip code you mail from into this box. If you mail from home, that would be your zip code, but if you prefer to mail from a post office box so that buyers won't know your address, you'll use your post office zip code. Buyers will be asked to type in THEIR zip code when they order, which will be how the distance is calculated :).


-Select your processing time. This is how long it will take you to get the ordered product into the hands of the postal service, and you want it to be as short as it can be, so that buyers aren't turned away by how long it will take, and yet just a little cushioned for emergencies, because Etsy makes sure you have confirmed the item is shipped by the promised date.


-Here's one of the perks of calculated shipping - you can reach buyers from all over the world, without being afraid of losing money due to shipping fees, because the price of shipping is given to them for their exact location, without you having to use the guess and hope method that is so often under priced!


-Also, and this is a big perk to customers, they can request that the item is sent using a faster method than first class, without you having to up the charge yourself. They just choose how fast they would like it shipped, and automatically the upgrade is calculated in! This will help you reach those last minute shoppers who would DEFINITELY buy from you... if only it would arrive in two days...


-Here you have some optional things to choose from... do you want to offer free shipping to a group of people? Do you need to include the price of your packaging into the shipping costs? It's up to you.


-Now, package up your item just like it is going to be mailed right now.
-Follow the instructions to your chosen postal scale to measure your packaged item in pounds and ounces.
-Enter the weight into the top two boxes. You can't put a partial ounce into the oz. box, so if your package weighs 6.3 ounces, you need to round it to 7.
-Grab your measuring tape, or, if you are using a commercial box, find the size given on the flap, and add the length (longest side, no matter which way the box goes), width, and height into the 3 spaces shown here. Inches have to be rounded to the next complete inch, too; so no 4 and 3/4 inches, just 5 :).


-If you are curious about how much it might cost somebody to have the item shipped to them, there are several preview options for large cities and countries, to get a feel for what they will be charged. It does nothing to your listing though, haha ;).



And that's it! You'll receive the exact postage from your customer that it would take to mail it through USPS. You can purchase the shipping labels through Etsy, though, which, as you can see, will be lower than from the USPS. See how they tucked the handling fee into the price, too? Buyers won't see that it's an added charge, so don't worry they'll be annoyed at that. But, here's a little secret... I don't usually add in a handling fee. The reason for this is that I'm already getting a discount purchasing all my labels from Etsy, and it usually averages out to about what I pay for packaging materials. Some sellers add the handling fee in and then refund any money they have left from shipping, so that it is super exact. But "time is money", and I don't want to have to run a partial refund, and then explain why I'm refunding, all the time, so I just leave out the handling fee, use the extra postage I save buying labels from Etsy to cover packaging, and take the cut of a possible $0.75 here and there. It's worth it to me, but it might not be to you... use your discretion in that area. I can see how explaining to someone that you are refunding a dollar for postage overages might get you some notice as a great customer service seller, for even caring about something "so small"... so there is that to be said about the other method. So just find what works best for you :)!

Was this helpful? Do you have a postal scale (or really want to get one now)? If so, what model did you get, and would you recommend it? Any other questions I could possibly help with :)?
-

Friday, November 3, 2017

Etsy Shop Loop Promotion ✽ Wanna Join it with Me :)?


I'll be taking part in a Etsy shop loop promotion later this month with the baby sets I offer in Under The Tapestry, and I wanted to share the details, if any of you Etsy sellers who sell baby items want to join with me :)! Here's the information we have...

"Hello fellow Etsy sellers!!!

We are setting up a loop promotion for the week of November 19th through 25th. We're looking for shop owners who sell baby or children’s homemade items (toys, blankets, clothing, pacifier clips, nursery d├ęcor, baby's first Christmas ornaments, teething rings, etc) and would like to participate!

The requirements:
We’ll be running a 15% discount code on all participating shops (one that we’ll all share). You must be willing to advertise the event beforehand, to share the main graphics each day through out the event, and to share each shop owner’s personal graphic at least once that week. This requires that you have a Facebook and/or Instagram following to share with, but size of your following doesn’t matter -we understand the need for something like this to be available to those just starting out. You will be asked to provide your own shop graphic and shop introduction/description complete with link for the other participates to share.

The event details:
During the event, a loop giveaway will be held. Contestants will be required to have purchased from one of the participating shops to be entered to win an item at the end of the week, and each purchase, either of multiple items from one shop, or single items from multiple shops, will be another entry in the contest for each purchase. They will be given 15% off of those orders as an added incentive to enter, and thereby grow our shops! Contestants will be required to comment on the main graphic that they purchased, and from which shop, for each item they purchase, but it is asked that you let us know if someone says they purchased, without actually doing so, so that they can be disqualified, as that is not fair to other contestants!

Other comments:
The giveaway prize is taken care of. We have had a participant ask if she could also donate something for the prize, and though that is not a requirement, feel free to let us know if you would like to do the same. Main graphics will be prepared and sent out to participants, along with a list of other participating sellers and the coupon code, on the 11th."

If you are interested in this event, would like to join, or have questions, comment below so that I can get more information sent to you :).

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Thankful Thursday ✽ Fall Blessings

Sommmmmebody told me that I don't share pictures of me with my siblings enough, ahem. Sooooo, here's a pic of us when we went to watch the solar eclipse this August, that I meant to blog about and never did ( :P...)...


And I just remembered we did have an actual family photo taken this year! My Grandpa snapped it really fast before we left the park where we went to spend some time with Great-Grandma!...


Very thankful for that, because it's not often we're all in a picture at the same time, haha :). I love Josiah's cheesy face <3. Noah's taken up that face in the past week, too, by the way...


Haha! Love 'em...

There are so many things we've been given to be thankful for <3. How kind God is to bless us above and beyond. We have not only been given eternal salvation, but little things to make our earthly time full of small joys as well! I've got my October wrap up post to finish up and put out, and that's started and should be up in a couple days... but today I want to do a Thankful Thursday sharing some of the things that I'm thankful for this fall season <3...


pink and gold leaves - noah's love of "puntins" - warm pumpkin muffins - crisp coolness - chilly weather that calls for soft blankets - fall colors - warm coffee - the sweet autumn coffee cup mama gave me - gingersnaps - weather that calls for baking little treats with little people - getting to work on simple fall crafts with little siblings - the temperatures that make it possible to wear my favorite long sleeved shirts (once i pull them out of the garage... from wherever they got put this summer... haha...) - making quick work of turning pie pumpkins into puree and roasted pumpkin seeds with my family - that cold scent that fills the house in the early morning - the beautiful decorations that people are making and sharing - comfortable fall dinners with those you love - the gentle, quiet fallish feeling you get from watching the squirrels busily preparing for winter as you pause in your day for a moment - sitting down with my journal and a pen to write down things i'm thankful for - transitioning into the christmas season with christmas music, whether it's too early or not, haha - time spent with my family as daddy takes some small work breaks before his christmas workload starts - and the grace that gave us all these things to enjoy, through no merit of our own

What are you thankful for this fall? Are you keeping a journal of thankfulness this month? Who else thought it was about time some family pictures got shared ;)?...