Looking Back and Looking Ahead 2018 ed.

design.pngJanuary is halfway done, and it’s time for me to reflect on my 2017 goals and decide on a few goals for this new “even” year!  Yay!

To be honest, the major reason I’m documenting my goals on this largely neglected blog is because unlike writing down my goals in a notebook or on a list, I can’t lose a blog post!  I know exactly where to find my resolutions, which is very helpful.

So here we go…

2017 Goals

  1. Remember my Goals – I’d say this is checked off since I improved this year by documenting my goals on last year’s blog post instead of losing my list completely.
  2. Read 12 Books – This was a definite check, I read 20 books last year!  That’s what happens when you have a baby, are awake at all hours, sleep train, live alone, and quit your job.  Let me know if you want my list!
  3. Write 36 blog posts – 36? 6? Well, I wrote at least 1… but clearly not even close to 36.
  4. Create a home out of our new house – We didn’t end up in a new house like we planned after we found out about our new family member, but I did land in a different house.  I now live in what we call the Monroe House, just down the street from my parent’s house, and a house that I have now landed in 3 times.  However, I have made it into a comfy home, so check!
  5. Have a baby and keep it healthy – CHECK!!!!!  Finlay is still alive!!!!  Partly due to my mad parenting skills, but mostly due to God’s grace and my family’s support.
  6. Fill an Art Journal – Well I crafted a new art journal…  But certainly didn’t fill it…

In summary, I’m pretty pleased with my progress on 2017’s goals!  Like I’ve mentioned before, 2017 was the hardest year of my life, for so many reasons…  Some of which I can’t even share.  But looking at what I was hoping for at the beginning of the year, and what I’ve accomplished, I can see that 2017 has taught me that I am not alone or helpless.  Many things happened to me this year, most that were completely out of my control, but as I type this post I can see many blessings.  I have a happy baby, a warm and peaceful home, and a loving family 5 minutes from my front door, I am blessed.

So what about next year?  Well here we go!

2018 Goals

  1. Read 24 books
  2. Cook my way through Jamie Oliver’s 30 Minute Meals Cookbook
  3. Switch over my cleaning and household products to non-toxic alternatives
  4. Finish my Art Journal!

I’m going to stop there for this year.  While I’m hopeful that 2018 will be less traumatic than 2017, I know that it will also be full of its own challenges.  Finlay will be mobile, my husband will come home, and we will probably move again.  As you can see, no blog related resolutions this year!  I don’t plan on ending my blogging activity, but obviously making it a goal to write more blog posts hasn’t worked for the past 5 years.  I end up writing when I feel like it, and that’s just fine.

What are your goals for 2018?


Fall is here and it’s time for an update! aka My Favorite Things

As I write this little post, Halloween is tomorrow and the lawns around town are now covered with yellow, red and orange leaves.  I’m a spring girl myself, but fall is also good…very good!

So here’s what I’ve been up to lately…


#1 Filling my new Bullet Journal

I’ve had a bullet journal for awhile now, and recently started a fresh one.  I spent some time in a disc-bound system for several months, but then remembered why I never stick with that type of notebook…  I hate maneuvering around those crazy discs!  It’s just not comfortable.  I love being able to switch around pages and add in folders and such, but it comes at a price, and that price is too high.

Interested in bullet journaling and want to see more?  I plan on writing a post dedicated to my current notebook, but here are some links in the meantime:

One-Year Bullet Journal Recap

Bullet Journal Flip: One Month In!

#2 Nurturing an addiction to podcasts

Podcasts are nothing new for me (see this post for some of my favorites), but lately I’ve been listening to them more than ever.  Having a podcast going is a great way to keep my daily life…ie. changing the baby, rocking the baby, bathing the baby, feeding the baby, waiting for the baby to go to sleep, etc… from driving me nuts.  My favorite podcast lately has been Up and Vanished.  It’s another true crime podcast, but one of the best I’ve ever listened too, and I’ve listened to Serial.


#3 Keeping baby Finlay alive

So far so good!  Just wanted a reason to get a picture in here 😉


#4 Exploring the world of Essential Oils

I FINALLY DID IT!  Yep, I’ve joined the ranks of Young Living essential oil users…  I’ve been on the essential oil train for a few years now, but had thus far held out as far as the “expensive” brands were concerned.  I scoured the internet to find the cheapest oils for any recipes that I wanted to try, but after hearing about Young Living for these past few years, I finally decided to give them a try to see if they really are any better than what I’ve been using.  So far… maybe.  Yeah, I haven’t had my kit very long yet, but I definitely prefer the scents of these oils to my cheapo stash.  And I surprise myself when I say that I appreciate the whole “Seed to Seal” concept, it’s nice to be able to trust that I’m getting the real deal and also nice to be among friends that have used and loved these oils for years.

I also appreciate having such a hefty discount when I want to expand my collection!

#5 Watching…

Community on Hulu…  For the second time.  LOVE IT.

Alrighty, that is all for now!  What’s coming up this month?  Well, if you’ve heard of NanoWriMo, you’ll know that I’ll be trying (again) to write a 50,000 word story…  I mean, what else do I have to do?

You’ve gotta see the baby!

It’s been one month since little boy Brown made his appearance, and I’m finally sitting down to write an update!  I honestly am a bit proud of myself for getting to it this quickly 😉

So now for the all-important birth stats:

Born at: 8:18pm on 5/15/17 (due date was 5/27)

Weight – 8lbs 9oz

Length – 21 inches

I’m going to try not to give that many details about my “birth story” today, but here’s a short version!

At about 12:30am (why do these things always happen in the middle of the night?), I was home trying to sleep when my water broke. Since I was feeling perfectly normal otherwise, I picked up my mom and grandma and drove us to the hospital. I was admitted around 2:30am, and I then called the Red Cross to get the ball rolling for Mr. Brown to come home, but was told that I shouldn’t have called. Apparently I was supposed to wait until the baby was born to call, which was bad news at a bad time. I wasn’t too happy about that obviously… I mean, at this point the baby is definitely coming soon, so why the wait?  

I ended up texting Mr. Brown with the situation, and in the end (MANY hours later), I found out that he was able to find a way to come home as soon as he got my message that morning.

Did I mention that this whole process took MANY HOURS? Since I wasn’t experiencing any contractions, I had to be induced around 8am. Luckily for me, modern medicine came to my rescue when things got tough, and my epidural was a complete success! Yes, I had an epidural… I’d actually put in my request and signed the paper as soon as I was admitted. So my long labor wasn’t bad at all, and I’d highly recommend my birth plan to anyone asking!

Mr. Brown’s plane ended up landing about 10 minutes after Walter Finlay made his appearance, but it was wonderful that he could make it so much sooner than I’d thought he’d make it.

One month in, Finlay and I are still figuring out how things work, but he’s still alive! His daddy spent about 10 days with us after the birth, and a few days last week, but we’re on our own for the next 9 months or so. This little baby is super-cute (obviously), but I know that it’ll be a hard road ahead. I’ve never been a baby/kid-person, so I feel like I’m flying by the seat of my pants. Apparently this is normal for newbie parents. At least according to my Google searches on “How to get my newborn to sleep in a crib.”

So there’s the update! The past week of my life has consisted of hauling around car seats, baby swings, and my “lightweight” stroller to doctors’ appointments, errands, and visits. I’ve been waging war against an onslaught of pests that seem to think my new/old house is their new/old house, and I’ve been tracking baby naps, my diet, and baby bowel movements. It’s a brave new world! Oh boy…




Last Minute Mother’s Day Printable

Happy Saturday everyone!  Do you know what today is?

It’s the day BEFORE Mother’s Day!

That means that there is still time to make sure the moms in your life know that you’re thinking of them.  If you haven’t managed to get out to the cards department in your local Target to get a sweet card, I have a treat for you!


I wanted to create a lovely card for my lovely mother, and decided to share.  Just DOWNLOAD the PDF, print on some white cardstock, fold & cut, then open up to write a custom note perfect for the mom you love.

Mother’s Day Card Printable

Happy Mother’s Day everyone!  I can’t believe that this is my last Mother’s Day before I’m a mom myself…eeek!

***These beautiful watercolor flower designs are available on Freepik.com if you’re interested!

The Art Journaling Habit: First Steps

Once I’d stumbled upon the idea of keeping an art journal on the Trumpetvine Travels, I immediately began gathering the supplies I’d need to recreate the system that Martha had outlined as her favorite.  While I enjoy a bit of creativity, when I find an existing system that I like, that also seems to be perfect for someone else, I like to start there.  Trying to reinvent the wheel to start a habit that I’ve never even attempted just seems too overwhelming!

Just in case you are interested in starting up an art journal, and feel the same way about reinventing the wheel, here’s how I started up:

Journal Making

The easiest way to start an art journal is to go to your favorite craft store (think Michaels or Hobby Lobby), and buy a blank notebook filled with watercolor paper.  First step is done!

Ironically, that is not at all what I did…

I was taken in by Martha’s step by step tutorial on how to make your own custom sketchbook, and found myself learning to how to Coptic stitch a book block before ever putting pen to paper!  Over the years I’ve made several of these little black books, but I’ve also gone off the beaten path with bought books and smaller Coptic stitched books.  I’ve found that the original version is the best for me, and that my best journals (the ones I actually finished!) were always the original style.  It’s worth the work to me, but I could see it as being a stumbling block to others, so you’ve been warned!


Another “aha moment” that came as a result of reading the Trumpetvine Travels blog was my discovery of the waterbrush and a travel watercolor palette.  The waterbrush is simply a paint brush that stores water in its body, so there’s no need to find a cup of water when you want to stop and paint on the go!  You can just pull out your waterbrush and treat it like a pen…if you have watercolors with you of course…  Which brings me to the watercolor travel palette!

If you visit your local craft store, you will most likely be able to find a watercolor travel palette like this:

That’s the easiest way to get started, but if you tend to enjoy DIY projects (like this blogger), you might want to consider making your own travel palette.  The tutorial that inspired my personal palette can be found at: http://artezan.blogspot.com/2007/04/home-made-watercolour-bijou-box.html   Although, you can find many more options online these days.

I ended up using a Whitman’s Chocolate tin that I had on hand,  with some white enamel paint and plastic paint pots that I just cut apart and Velcro-ed into the tin.  The lovely thing about watercolors is that once they dry, they keep to themselves until re-activated by water, so perfect for mess-less travel.  Awesome.  I just tuck a piece of paper towel into the top of my tin, and I’m ready to go.

Other handy supplies would be a pencil, a good eraser, and a waterproof ink pen.  That’s it!  You are now ready to go out and start art journaling.  Stay tuned for the next installment of the Art Journaling series!

A Season for Everything

I’d have to say that there have been specific months & years in my lifetime that seem to combine several momentous occasions and life changes all together, and then there are others that seem to pass by with very little changes to remember.  Spring of 2017 will most certainly embody the former! 

As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, I’m expecting a baby boy in the next month.  That by itself may be the most extreme change I have yet faced in my 32 years (well…besides being born).  I’ve moved several times, married, lived overseas, and went off to 2 very different colleges, but from what I understand, becoming a mother is something else entirely.  Am I ready???  Of course not!  Until about 8 months ago, I had my doubts that I would ever have children.  Don’t get me wrong, kids were part of the OFFICIAL plan since I married Mr. Brown almost 5 years ago, but deep down I don’t think I honestly believed it would happen.  

So there’s that…

A new baby that will forever change the course of my life. DUE May 27th 2017. 

In January, I was also aware that I would most likely say goodbye to my lovely father this year.  After fighting his way through a bout of stomach cancer a couple years ago, it came back with a vengeance before he’d had a chance to gather his strength to fight it again.  Choosing to spend the rest of his days enjoying his family and projects instead of starting another intense round of chemo treatments (that weren’t likely to succeed), Dad accepted his fate and so did we.

In mid-April, surrounded by his family and showered with love, dad breathed his last. 

I have never seen a death before, so I don’t know how these things usually go, but I was honored to be sitting beside him.  I prayed till the very end for healing, and even now catch myself wanting to ask God to change his mind and bring dad back, but I’m so grateful that I spent dad’s last days near him.  I’m so grateful that my father lived a life of integrity and showed all of us just how much he loved and appreciated us.  There was no business to resolve, or wounds to mend, and although it’s easy for me to find myself very sad about losing him, I know that it’s also ok for me to look forward to the future and be joyful.

The day my father died, another significant occasion occurred… 

My husband left for his deployment. 

Yes, with the exception of 2 weeks leave once baby Brown appears (in May hopefully!), Mr. Brown will be MIA for the rest of this year and into 2018.  Obviously the timing isn’t great…  But we’ve known for awhile that this was a possibility, and I’m trusting that our baby’s birth was actually timed out perfectly.  I never planned on mothering a baby on my own, and I’m not going to lie, I’m still not nuts about the idea, but deep down I know that I won’t be alone at all.  If I’ve learned anything from the past month, it’s that I am most certainly not alone.  In addition to luxury of trusting God with my future, I also am surrounded by loving family and friends, many of whom have made it perfectly clear that I have help and support.  That makes all the difference.  

Happy Spring everyone!  Anyone else out there expecting big changes this season?



The Art Journal Habit: A History


Roughly a decade ago, my past self stumbled upon an art journalist’s blog and I began what has been an on-again/off again relationship with art journaling.  The blog was called “The Trumpetvine Travels,” and Martha’s posts about her travel sketchbooks made a huge impact on how I saw my own artistic abilities and inclinations.  I’d say it completely opened my eyes to the possibility of pursuing art when for years I’d assumed that I had no talent and had missed the boat for mastering any art form whatsoever.

Trumpetvine Header.jpg

A bit of history: Like many rural kids, I attended a small school with little to no funding for developing artistic talent.  Once I graduated out of the elementary school construction paper projects, there were no longer any classes available to explore art.  None.  My little school dealt exclusively with the major classes required to help its students make their state and federal requirements.  If I had been an art prodigy, with above average talent and drive, I’m sure this wouldn’t have stopped me from learning on my own, but I wasn’t.  I was an average kid, with average talent, and a slightly above average interest, but not enough to challenge the system in any way.  I accepted that I wasn’t artistic.  It was a shame, but it was reality, and I honestly didn’t lose any sleep over it.


Martha’s San Francisco Bay sketch

I took my first art class my junior year of college, a design theory elective, and I’d say that this experience began the “awakening.”  I followed it with a couple of graphic design courses the next year, and found out that though I was not at the prodigy level, I really enjoyed making time for artistic projects.  The instructors also affected the way I saw my capabilities and encouraged me to pursue my artistic inclinations further.  I was a history major in my senior year, so a career in art wasn’t on the table, but I felt inspired to figure out a way to make it part of my life.

After graduating from college, I went home to find a “real job,” and to prepare myself to start grad school.  The next 3 years would be some of the most frustrating of my young life!  I felt stuck, without any real drive to enter a grad school program and I really really HATED my office job.  I was certain that I was wasting my life away and treading water, but low and behold, I was wrong!


An adventure was just around the corner, and it was during this waiting period that I developed some of the habits that I most cherish now.  I learned how to play the piano using the chords method, which is now a big part of my life and a great source of joy for me.  I also discovered the world of art journaling, and I began another habit that continues to bring me joy.

There concludes my (lengthy) backstory!  Next time: The Art Journal Habit: First Steps

Do you have any habits/hobbies that brought you joy in a difficult time?