I live in a city

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I’m sitting in my new home. A studio apartment in the corner of a 90-year-old building on the 6th floor. And I’m a little terrified. Or maybe overwhelmed is a better word? Intimidated, maybe? But also a little giddy and incredulous that I have this opportunity.

It wasn’t too long ago that we moved from Iowa…where the largest city is more than three times smaller than Seattle and I didn’t even live there, I lived in Iowa “City” which is about nine times smaller than Seattle.

I don’t really know that it’s the size of the city that matters. It’s maybe more that I haven’t yet known how I fit in out here in the West, and I certainly don’t know how I fit in a rather large, notably cool city.

We’ve moved four times to three different areas around the Sound since we moved here from Iowa a little over two years ago. We’ve been involved in two churches in three different areas. We’ve made very few friends. These are all probable factors to my overwhelm.

Rest assured, I’m thrilled that we have an opportunity to take this leap and make this adventurous choice of city life. It’s not comfortable, but it is incredible. And a little wild. I will say this, there is no way I’d be this adventurous if I wasn’t completely confident in who I am as Bryan’s wife. He anchors me, however cliche that sounds. And I’m so glad I’m doing this with him.

I think I really want to settle in here; in this tiny apartment in this big city. And I think I’m going to have more to say.

In the meantime, I’m going to catch my breath, spend some time with Jesus and start unpacking boxes.

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stranger-making

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I’ve long known that my love language is crafting. As in, I love loving people by making things for them. I like being the “crafty friend.”

I would estimate that I spend about 75% of my craft time making some specifically requested item for someone, or helping someone with an everyday type mending project. And for those of you who are in amazement of my lack of Etsy shop – I don’t have time to make all my friends things and make items to sell.

Truly, right now, I wouldn’t have it any other way. My friends are my inspiration. They come up with these crazy ideas of things they want and I get to explore forward and create a new project! I love it. Seriously. And I love the happiness I’m able to bring the people I love by making them a one-of-a-kind gift or by helping them learn to sew or knit or by helping with a household project that requires some crafty ingenuity and know-how.

However, there is another, more secret reason I haven’t made the jump from friend-making to stranger-making. It’s the pressure. And the worry. And the wanting it to be perfect. Because when you make things for your friends, they are THRILLED and AMAZED. No matter what. Even if a hem is a little crooked. Even if there is a little snag in the fabric.

Maybe I just have the BEST, most AWESOME friends (I do). Seriously, friends, thanks for providing me with so much inspiration. And thanks for letting me practice on you.

I don’t know how to end this post. Because I’m honestly still in mid-thought about it. Should I let my fear of rejection conquer me? Probably not. Do I really want to go for this whole “selling my wears” thing? I don’t know. But it’s crossing my mind on a more regular basis, so that’s something.

 

Christmas Letter 2013

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Now that all the physical copies of this letter have gone out, I wanted to make sure I posted our Christmas letter on the blog.  Last years was really darn good if I do say so myself, so this year I had to lower everyone’s expectations a little.  It was a little more normal, but hopefully still a pleasure to read – which is always my goal. Enjoy!

It seems my stroke of inspiration for writing our annual Christmas letter comes later and later each year.  I may have had my address list updated in mid-November, but this Christmas letter will most likely get to you after Christmas this year.  I apologize for the tardiness, but you’re very welcome for the treasure that is this letter.  I have to say I’ve been a bit distracted this season as I’m attempting to hand make all of our Christmas gifts this year.  Don’t worry, I probably only have a mild case of carpal tunnel from all the feverish knitting I’ve been doing.

I’ll start this Christmas Letter off with an announcement: we became adults this year.

[Blog Add-In: how many readers were hoping the announcement was that I was pregnant?  (I’m not)  I know at least one…] 

We really made quite the adult move across the country for new job opportunities.  I mean, who moves for “job opportunities?!”  Adults, that’s who.  We’re just two adults living in the Greater Seattle Area now (and by greater, I mean GREATER…we’re about 22 miles south of the city, which basically means 40 minutes away with traffic).  Speaking of traffic, goodness gracious, TRAFFIC!  Who deals with traffic on a daily basis?!  Bryan and I both have an actual commute to work.  Every day.  I didn’t believe in commuting until I became an adult.

That’s right friends, we’re officially in our mid-twenties and the crankiness and gray hairs are upon us.  We live for routine and week nights and dessert binges.  I’m not lying to you (because adults don’t lie) when I confess that I listen to NPR on my commute now.  And I’m also not lying to you when I tell you that Bryan joined a gym.  That’s correct; we actually pay real dollars so that Bryan can stay fit.  Who says “stay fit?!”  Adults, that’s who.

Have you noticed the double spacing between sentences yet?  Yeah, I just learned that is a thing.  Adulthood, I tell you.

Bryan has a great start to his career here in the Seattle area; he’s able to service clients while working to build his own book of business.  Did you understand any of that?!  Was it too adult-y for you?  Yeah, I know – but seriously, it’s all real!  Bryan has a career!  And “building a book of business” is a real phrase!!!  I’m not even pulling your leg.  Get this, I am not allowed to wear jeans to work.  That’s how fancy my job is.  I’m now the proud owner of clothing items such as, “work dresses,” “hosiery” and “designer slacks.”  Who even says “slacks?!”  You guessed it – Adults.

Our TV is mounted to our wall, we now own a Keurig, we shop at Costco, and we wear white shirts.  Yep, it’s a pretty sure thing that we’re adults.

All in all, this year has been a happy, crazy year for us.  It has been a year full of adult decisions and plans.  It’s been a year of settling into a brand new place and making new friends and finding our way.  It’s been a fun adventure!  God has richly blessed me and Bryan and we continue to walk in His grace.  May you take time this season to reflect on the awesomeness that is Jesus coming to earth – He came for you and for me to wipe our sins away!  You don’t have to be an adult to understand that, or to get ridiculously excited about it.   Enjoy the season!   We are so blessed to have you in our lives, our friends and family near and far.

The Merriest of Christmases to you,

 

Bryan & Lisagrace

New Year

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I don’t have any New Year’s Resolutions this year.

I’m really good with that.

I’m really good right here, and I’m really good with the idea of moving forward, pushing myself, being better.

I love the fresh start of the New Year – starting over, clean slate, new budget sheets, new calendars.  It’s always kind of nice to push the last year behind you, shut it doors, and open the new year.  The New Year naturally causes me to reflect on the old one.  I spend a lot of time meditating on the things I’ve slowly and painstakingly learned in the last year.  These are the things that I usually don’t know I’m learning until after the fact.

The most profound thing I learned in 2013 was about time.  I really learned that I only have so much time to accomplish things I love, or things I want or things I need.  It’s kind of like when you always have more money than you need, you don’t fully understand budgeting.  You can pay your bills, buy whatever you need and then some.  That’s how my life has aligned with Time until this last year.  I just…always had enough.

But something changed this year, and I could no longer accomplish everything I wanted and I really felt it.  I wanted to blog more, but I read a lot more instead.  I wanted to cook more, but I crafted more instead.  I wanted to make new friends, but I FaceTimed with old ones instead.  I wanted to spend more time with people, but I worked, slept, crafted more instead.

2013 was the first year in my 25 years that I felt the give and take of time.  I started noticing that I wasn’t getting certain things done because I was actually doing other things – rather than just laziness.

This is a hard lesson to learn, because I don’t know what to do about it.  What can I do?  I’m in a place where no matter what, I have to give up something.  And I don’t want to give up anything. And I want to do more.  It’s interesting, I’ll tell you.

And some how this lesson has led me to having no resolutions for the new year.  I think I’m feeling a little capped out.  But I’m also feeling like resolving a whole year is just not practical for me right now.  I think instead I’ll resolve each day. To make the most of my time, doing things that I love, want and need to do.

God has contented my heart – I’m really content right now.  I’m really good with being right here, right now.  I think I’ll just stick with that.

 

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the secret of nesting

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We are expecting our first visitor this week! I could not be more excited!!!!!!!!!!!! This morning, I woke up like it was the eve of Christmas Eve, when really it’s just two days before September 19th, when one of my dearest friends is coming to me!

Kaylee’s imminent and exciting arrival has sent me into a nesting flurry. If you’re friends with me on facebook, you may have noticed our extremely productive labor day weekend. Our little tiny home is coming together and I’m loving every little piece of the process and our home. (I know, I know, I really promise to post pictures soon!)

This has been my favorite little home of ours so far. We started from scratch after four years of collecting house stuff. Our new apartment here was an empty canvas of sorts, and having absolutely no furniture or decor or anything allowed us to slowly take our time deciding what we valued, what our aesthetic was, and what items/decor were both beautiful and functional to us.

I’m not great at decorating nor do I claim to have an eye for interior design. But I’ve read recently on several different design blogs something to the effect of, “Don’t worry about an item “matching” the rest of your decor, if it’s beautiful to you, it will go with your aesthetic.” Wow, am I right?! That mantra really gave me a lot of freedom and took away a lot of my usual stress about decorating. This idea completely defines how I created each and every space in our home. Some things in our home are beautiful to me because I handmade them, some are beautiful to me because they were $50 instead of $500 and some are beautiful to me because they just are.

The other major factor that defines the decor in our home was that I took my time. I’m notorious for rushing to make important decisions simply because I don’t like making them. But with this home, we didn’t have a couch for a month, or a kitchen table. The piece of plywood that has been sitting in our living room for two months? I just decided what to make of it. And I’ve been so okay with that, because the reality is, in the past two months, I’ve changed my mind three times about that particular art project, and I’m so excited about what I’ve finally decided to do.

I have some friends that are really wonderful at nesting and I’ve always been jealous of them. But I think I’m figuring out their secrets! Knowing myself, and knowing what’s beautiful to me has been the secret of making my apartment into my home. Can’t wait to show you pictures!

things i learned on the whole30…i mean whole20

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Yeah, I know, you totally called it.  We only lasted 20 days.  The thing is, we wanted to enjoy pizza with our co-workers and support our new church building at a spaghetti fundraiser dinner, so it was a choice to give it up early.  But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t an awesome, insane, and educational experience.  Here are some life-changing things I learned.

When you throw your grocery budget out the window, and have extremely limited options for ingredients, cooking isn’t actually that bad.  More and more as I grow up, I am learning that I do.not.like cooking.  It’s in the same line as cleaning for me.  Necessary, but how necessary is it?  I can live in my own filth just about as long as I can survive on cheap fast food and pizza-it’s quite an impressive threshold.  But I actually enjoyed cooking on the Whole30, because I didn’t have to think about following recipes or even meal planning.  I didn’t really have to think about grocery shopping either because there were so few things I could actually buy, that I just bought everything we could eat.  We completely killed our grocery budget (we seriously spent almost twice as much as we normally do, sick!) but that was okay, too, because we planned on that.  So I would shop and buy whatever I knew we could eat, without worrying about money and then every evening I would look in my fridge and cupboards and make whatever I came up with.  I like cooking that way, and in some ways, I’ve adopted that into my daily routine.  Buy things that sound good and are natural and healthy and then make something up.

Food has a lot of crap in it.  We’re blessed to not have food allergies/intolerance so I’ve never really cared what was in the things I was buying.   But the Whole30 definitely opened my eyes to all the weird ingredients that companies put in food.  I’m learning to read the label and trying not to buy things that have ingredients I can’t pronounce.

Dairy makes me smelly.  It just does.  So I’ve sadly stopped drinking milk regularly and cook with a lot less cheese.  It’s not as hard as I thought it would be.  I’m not super strict about it, and I will not give up milk with cookies or a splash in my cereal.  But the new moderation definitely helps my gassy-ness.

Overall, we’ve changed.  The other day, I made a batch of cookies, and only made 8 cookies.  We could have eaten the whole batch ourselves, easily.  But I wrapped up the rest of the cookie dough and put in in the fridge for later.  WHAT?!  I barely even recognized myself.  Bryan was hilariously irritated when I told him he would be only be getting 4 cookies, but even he admitted that 4 was the perfect amount for one evening.

So, no, we didn’t make all 30 days.  And no, I don’t plan on eating paleo the rest of my life, by any means.  But my entire goal was to kick off a healthier lifestyle for us, and I would definitely say we succeeded in that regard.

Oh yeah, it’s also notable that Bryan lost at least 15 pounds in 20 days, and my muffin top was significantly reduced-so that was kind of fun too!

 

 

whole30 update

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Terribly sorry, Bryan and Lisagrace are dead.  Cause of death is unknown, but it is suspected to be a lack of sugar.

J/k.  But seriously.  Okay, fine, it’s not that hard.  We’re halfway there!  Can you tell it’s an emotional roller coaster?

We’re still doing this thing.  All thirty days, even though Bryan conveniently thinks Whole20 sounds so much better from a marketing standpoint.

We’re at the point in which we’ve realized this really isn’t that hard, and we’re excited to be eating better foods.  So, now that we’ve learned these things, can we please have ice cream?  But, just yesterday I realized something – if we gave up on this thing early, it would be to succumb to a random craving.  And we’d eat like a gallon of ice cream and a stuffed crust pizza in one night.  BUT if we end it on our terms (at the end of the 30 days as planned), the likelihood of us going on an all out binge is far less likely.  It’s self-control against the cravings and I’m determined to beat the cravings.

On the up side, I’m actually craving things like strawberries.  So I’m pretty much a full-on health nut.

In even more good news, I realized I’m totally checking #17 off my 30 before 30 list by doing this.  Score!

I’m so thankful that we randomly decided to do this in the summer, when the Farmer’s Markets are bursting with life and fruits and veggies.  SO thankful!

Here are some things that have been super awesome on the Whole30:

 TJ Spice Mixes
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Trader Joe’s Spice Mixes

Misto
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Misto = spray-able olive oil, can’t go wrong!

stoneware
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Stoneware, it makes everything taste delicious and keeps me from cooking over a stove 3 times a day