4/11/19

What Should I Write About, Post No. 1

I reached out on Instagram last week, asking for blog post ideas. I've been out of this writing space for so long, and felt like I needed a few prompts to help get me started again. The response was amazing, I got multiple suggestions that make me really excited to work my way through the list.


Today, the first post in a series of posts I am going to title, What Should I Write About, is all about finding contentment in the house that you have











When this suggestion came in, I knew I wanted to tackle it. Not because I have this all figured out, but because lately I've been struggling to find contentment in my house... how timely.

For those you might not know, my husband bought the house we live in before we met. He was from Pennsylvania, and while the house he bought is in the same area of New York that I grew up in, I was living in Jamaica at the time. 

As the story goes, the weekend he had closing on the house was the same weekend I moved back to the States. We had a lot of mutual friends, including a couple whose wedding we were both invited to. Herm came to New York that weekend not only to close on this house, but also attend their wedding. We ended up sitting across from each other during the reception, and even though I was only nineteen and had sworn off trying a relationship again until I was at least twenty-five, I left that night with a knowing that he was going to be my husband. Sure enough, thirteen months later we were married.

Back to the house that he had bought -- It was a complete dump. The family who lived here before had not cared for things well. The entire place wreaked of smoked, and it was easy to see how they had their living room furniture set up due to cigarette burns in the carpet, a convenient ashtray when lounging on a recliner. No one had lived in the house for months, but they generously left meat in the fridge, which was set at a temperature warm enough to allow slow fermentation. Can you imagine the smell?

Thankfully Herm had a lot of help from his family, and before we really got to know each other well, the house had be thoroughly cleaned and everything painted. 

It was still very much a 'man-cave' before we got married. After our wedding, I began making it more homey. I repainted a lot of those house to colors that were more neutral, and together we worked on projects like remodeling the bathroom, painting the kitchen cabinets and counters, eventually, replacing the awful carpet with wood floors, updating hand-me-down furniture with fun Craigslist finds, and building the deck of Herm's dreams (in this case, the cobbler's family actually owns shoes).

Our house is cozy and welcoming. But sometimes I have a hard time remembering that.

It is small, and our family keeps growing. The cabinets and walls that looked so fine four years ago with their temporary improvements of paint and creative love have aged, a patina of finger prints and knicks and wear. It is easy to look around and see the imperfections, to look around and compare what I have with what everyone on Instagram has, it is easy to before I know it find myself discontent.

I don't have answers on how to always be content. That is not what this post is. But, I do have a few things I personally do to find contentment when I struggle with feeling lack in my home.

1. Look through old photos to see what our home looked like, and what it has evolved into.

It happened, a slow morphing process of time and creativity and resources, gradually forming into what it is now. In all honesty, I am so grateful we weren't able to do everything all at once before getting married. My personal style has morphed and changed with time. Looking through old photos I can see the love that was put into each and every step of the way. Our house isn't complete, and as long as we are living here, I don't think it ever will be. Isn't that beautiful?

(Want to see pictures from the early days? Click here.)

2. Learn to see beauty in imperfections.

Myquillyn Smith, from the blog The Nester, and author of the books, The Nesting Place and Cozy Minimalist Home, has a quote I love: It doesn't have to be perfect to be beautiful. Finger prints, dinged drywall, paint chipping away from my counter top... it doesn't have to be perfect. It still is beautiful.

3. Allow change to happen.

I don't think contentment means that you can never improve on things. I always have a running list of things I'd like to change, implement or improve. I love putting thought and creativity into making our house not only functional, but also beautiful. However, it is important to be grateful for the process and to work within your means. Allow change to happen, but remember, it often happens slowly, and that's okay.

4. Be grateful.

When I am not feeling contentment, it is often because I don't feel gratitude for what I do have, or because I feel entitled to more. It helps me to make a list of the things I am grateful for when I feel discontentment creep in. 

5. Shop My Home First

And finally, when I feel discontentment creep in and linger around, I like to shop my own home first, before heading to the store. Often, freshening things up and rearranging a bit can make a space feel new and exciting without feeding the discontentment bug new things. And, if I am going to spend a little on something new, fresh-cut flowers, even though they wilt and fade, are a wonderful option for adding cheer.


Now it's your turn: Tell me how you work at feeling contentment in the house that you have.


4/9/19

The Friends + Family Event

There is some exciting stuff happening with Beautycounter this week, so if that interests you, keep reading!

Their rare Friends + Family event is going on April 9 - April 15, with almost everything marked at 15% off (some things, link product bundles, are excluded). I've heard that this event has only happened three times in six years.

In addition to their sale, I am hosting my launch social, and anyone who orders through the link I am going to share will be entered in to a drawing for some free Beautycounter product credit!

Are you curious? Shop this link, or reach out to me and I'd be glad to help you get started.

Have a wonderful day!



3/29/19

In the Nick of Time





 


A New Years goal: Write one blog post per month.

Easy-peasy.

Yet, three months in, and I've nearly failed. That's about right, right? I think statistics say most people begin to fizzle out, completely abandoning their goals altogether by the end of March. 

I've tried multiple times--late at night, during nap time, immediately after breakfast and before the first hangry call for a snack twenty-three minutes later--but thoughts are jumbled and words don't flow.

A want-to-be writer. An amateur, that's what I am. 

So, instead of getting a well-thought through post, which is what I really was hoping would happen with these monthly posts, I'm delivering a hodge-podge of thoughts and happenings, simply because I want to keep this goal of mine alive. 


CURRENTLY


I am reading: Where the Crawdads Sing and The Kitchen House.


My friend Kayla is the world's best resource for good fiction. Whenever I need something new to read but am not sure where to begin, she is the person I'll turn to. I borrowed both of these books from her, and in less than two weeks I had read them through. 

I use to think fiction was a waste of time. How naive and narrow that view. I still read a ton of memoirs, of self-help and motivational, of business books. But when I want to spark creativity, it's to fiction that I turn. I don't think I would be able to pick a favorite, I loved them both for different reasons. I loved the writing style of Where the Crawdads Sing, and The Kitchen House, it's one of those books that nearly moved me to tears.

Also, not a book but a blog I enjoy: Life in the Shoe

Her most recent post, Writing People Off, made me chuckle. I am guilty of this too. In my home-school days it was Bill Gothard. He lost me when, in one of his recorded seminars I had to sit through, he said that certain rhythms of music are inherently evil, that all rock music, even if it was Christian worship music, carries demonic messages.

It happened again a few years later, when I was told by a male peer that because I was a Mennonite girl wearing a head-covering I should NEVER work at a restaurant that serves alcohol, as it would go against what people would assume my stance on drinking is, but that he, because there was no outward indication of his faith or church denomination, certainly would be free to do so.

Dorcas, author behind that blog is witty and honest. I like that. 


I am loving: Flawless in Five

This is a customizable makeup set from Beautycounter, a company whose mission is to create high-preforming, safer alternatives to makeup and skincare products. I've been using their products for almost nine months, slowly adding to my collection, a piece here, a piece there.

The beginning of March I decided to join the company as a consultant. My goal is to switch out all of our household and skincare products to things that are low or non toxic. Beautycounter has been the perfect place to start.

I created an Instagram account, SarahEshWellness, to share more about Beautycounter and other safer brands that I've been using and loving. Follow along if you'd like!

I am dreaming: Of warmer weather.

Winter never bugged me. Not until I became a stay-at-home mom. Now though, every February, I start to feel it, those mid-winter blues. It is then that I feel like I need a drastic life change; a new haircut; a home-makeover; and begin contemplating tattoo designs. (I kid. Sort of.)

Nothing too drastic happened this February. And now we are nearly through March. It's just around the corner, this warmer weather... I keep reminding myself of this. 


I am thinking about: Ricotta cheese on toast.

It takes toast, whether sweet or savory, up a notch or two. Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day, and I am not beneath eating it any time of day. This toast, it makes waking up worth it. (Said by an early bird who LOVES waking up. Take it for what it is worth.)

I am listening to: Relatable with Allie Stuckey

I've never been that interested in politics, with its scandals and lies and deceit and slander. But after New York recently changed its laws on abortion, and is so dramatic about vaccinations, I've begun to pay more attention. This podcast is, well, Relatable. :)


I am watching: Nothing lately.

In theory, I wish I would be watching something. But I have the hardest time sitting through anything. B-O-R-I-N-G, I know.


And it's a wrap: The month of March now has a blog post all it's own. See ya sometime in April!
 


2/22/19

On Growing Faith






Hey, would you mind calling my phone? I can't find it. 

Herm had just returned from running a few errands in town and visiting a job site, Carson and Brooklyn in tow. I find his number in my favorites list--the only one listed there, because he is essentially the only one I call--and hit dial. The phone rings once, promptly going to voicemail.

Either the phone is turned off, or someone has found it and would like to keep it off.

Losing a phone is an awful feeling. I lost mine once in Chicago, a few years back. I set it down on a park bench as I stooped to fix Carson's shoe. We walked nearly two miles before I discovered my mistake. Herm called my phone multiple times as we back-tracked the Magnificent Mile, praying we would find it, but knowing we surely wouldn't. In a city of nearly three million, what are the odds a brand new iPhone would still be nestled on the park bench? It was maybe the fourth or seventh or eleven call, I don't remember exactly, when someone answered. Hello?

You have my wife's phone, Herm told the stranger. 

I saw it on a park bench, and was going to just leave it there, but then I realized that someone will be looking for this phone. I couldn't access the contacts because of the lock, but I knew someone would call. I'm in town to see The Grateful Dead. 

The kind stranger gave us his location. After a few more miles of walking, as we neared the area, a grungy man and his girlfriend, both dressed in black, his tee shirt boasting their love of The Grateful Dead, came over. This has got to be yours, he said, pointing at the phone, its screen displayed a photo of Herm, Carson and I.

I tried to press a crisp $20 bill into his hand, it wasn't nearly enough to show my gratitude. He wouldn't take the cash. Pay it forward, he told me.

Two weeks later, I was driving to the mall when I noticed what looked like a phone, laying on the road. I couldn't keep going, pretending I didn't see. I pulled off to the side, and ran back to the intersection. Sure enough, the screen was locked and badly broken. But still, it worked! I tucked the phone into my pocket, knowing this was my chance to pay it forward. A few hours later, after I got the rich privilege of reading a very colorful, one-sided conversation, the owner of the phone called. I answered, and though I wanted to tell him that maybe it would be better not picking up the phone, with its mounting drama, we agreed that I would take it to the service desk of Target. He could pick it up there.

If I were to lose my phone, I am not sure how I would get through folding laundry and washing floors. Podcasts help lessen the repetitiveness of house-work. I would survive however, and life would go on. But for Herm, his phone is a tool he uses for work. Being without one isn't an option.

He made a few phone calls to the businesses he had been to, then went back to physically retrace his steps.

Meanwhile I gathered Carson and Brooklyn, explaining that we were going to pray that Herm would find his phone.

Mom, but will Jesus actually help? asked Carson, my inquisitive child. Lately he's been asking me a lot of questions on matters of faith. How a five year old make me feel so inadequate and uneducated, I don't know. But his questions often stump me.

Well, I stuttered for a reply, if He feels like it, I suppose....

Oh ye of little faith.

Was that the Spirit I heard whisper in my ear? Okay then, I retort back, I will change my answer under one condition: You don't turn me into a liar!

Yes Carson, Jesus will make sure that your dad finds his phone. I wanted to cross my fingers behind my back, like I did when I was seven and didn't want my conscious seared for telling a little white lie. But, like a grown-up with faith the size of a mustard seed, I left them uncrossed, hands in front of me.

An hour later Herm returned.

Did you find your phone? I ask.

He begins to tell me the story, of how he stopped at every business he had visited earlier. No one had seen it. He goes back to the job site, its not there. In a last ditch-effort, he begins to shovel snow around the spot where he had parked his truck to unload some supplies. He threw each shovel full of snow up into the air, figuring that if the phone had dropped into the snow, he would notice it flying through the air. (And break it, I want to smartly state. But silence is a virtue, right?)
He threw one last shovel-full of snow into the blue sky, and began to walk away when he realize that he had heard something had hit the ground. What was that sound? There, buried back in the snow after a joy-ride on a shovel, a glint of silver caught his eye. His phone, dead from the cold, and not broken from the jostling, was found.

You better tell you kids, I laugh. They prayed over this phone.

It built my faith, if not theirs. And now, every night since, Carson has something he needs prayer for: a scraped elbow, a runny nose, a broken toe-nail.

Raising kids is building my faith. Yes, I can confidently state, Jesus will answer our prayers.
No fingers crossed.

1/25/19

On Trantrums and Travel, On Meals and Marriage






Hey Babe, Herm said, peeking his head in through the cracked door, I am heading to Canandaigua for a bit, and I'd like to take the kids along. Is that okay?

Is that okay? Oh blessed words.

I was in the midst of putting Jack down for a nap, and from the looks of things, would likely spend the rest of the afternoon contending with Brooklyn. She is pro-choice when it comes to nap time; I am not.

We had just gotten back from running errands, and Brooklyn, my feisty, spirited child was feeling every emotion. There were tears because I "turned the wrong way" and drove right on passed Aldi, there were tears at the drive-thru when I opened the little cylinder container and sent our checks into the bank before she had a chance to ask if she could do it. There were tears when she realized our favorite bank teller wasn't there to say hi to (or get a lollipop from), and there were even more tears when I told her that even if Ms. Christine was working, an attitude like her current one is never rewarded with sugar.

When we finally did make it into Aldi the tears kept coming because I put peanut butter in the cart when she wanted to do it... and so on. We still had to stop at the library, where, in that tranquil atmosphere, her lung capacity was sure to break all sound barriers. If we get kicked out of that place someday, it's her fault.

I absolutely love Brooklyn's strong and fiery personality. I hope she never loses that. But in a two year old, and when you're her mother, it's also utterly exasperating.

But here I am, home with a sleeping baby--the humming dishwasher and a whirling fan the only background noise I hear. It is lovely!

Recently Herm and I have been discussing marriage. What makes a marriage good? What makes a marriage great? Perhaps I'll share my two cents on this topics at a later point. One thing I know without a shadow of a doubt though, is that by looking for ways to serve the other person (in other words, make their life easier) the marriage will automatically benefit. So, brownie points for Herm!

Jumping back into this blogging world feels a bit like trying to walk after riding a horse for a few hours--I still know how but at the moment I'm a bit wobbly. In order to have a successful blog, so many people say that you need to find your niche. I don't have one.

I like to write about what I like, and I like a variety of things. Which means it's back to the usual again, where I share stories my kids and what we're up to, where I talk about books I am reading, and clothes I am loving, and travel, and how I hate that five o'clock hour when everyone is hungry and I am supposed to do something about it.

Since I already talked about a kid, let's chat about books: Have you read 7 Men: And the Secret of Their Greatness, by Eric Metaxas? I borrowed it a couple of weeks ago, and am currently working my way through it. It focuses on the lives of seven men who made history. Talk about inspiring you to live a life of greatness! Metaxas also wrote a book called 7 Women: And the Secret of Their Greatness. I can't wait to dive into that one too.

As far as clothes go, I recently bought a pair of J. Crew High-rise Toothpick jeans on Poshmark. I got the curvy version, which has a more narrow waist band. (No more gaping or sagging! Hallelujah!) The curvy style is sold out in stores but the ones I am linking to are still available. I love the rip-and-repair edition because it has the playfulness of destroyed demin, but the sturdiness of regular jeans.

Travel. I am longing to travel again. Jack's passport came this week, which means, we can now go abroad as a family of five! What a fun thought.

And speaking of that five o'clock hour: Minor panic until I remembered tonight we are going to my parents for a meal. I don't have to think about it.

Okay, that's enough jabbering for one day. I'll sign off now. (And take out the trash, because that's what you do to strengthen a marriage. :-) )

-Sarah

1/19/19

New Year, New Post










These photos were taken by my friend Lyndsi of LYNDSI Photography. This is one of my favorite photo sessions to date. In spite of the rain and cold, Lyndsi managed, like she always does, to capture a beautiful story through the power of imagery. If you'd like to see more of her work, click here


It's been there for months now, this burning desire to spend time punching keys, arranging letters to form sentences. It's been there for months now, this longing to write.

So here I am, feeling a bit out-of-sorts, I've been away for so long.

One of my three goals for this new year, is to blog at least once per month. In order to jump back into this space, I think I need to update you on the biggest change in our lives!

So here it goes...

Since I last wrote, I gave birth to a wonderful little boy named Jack. He's almost seven months old now and is absolutely adored by his two older siblings. Jack attentively studies Carson, learning his tricks, eager to join in his escapades. He loves Brooklyn too, but she overwhelms him with her brisk and wild ways, and he prefers a bit of distance between them. 

Jack, though his personality is sweet and laid back, has been my hardest baby thus far. The first three months he was colicky, at times it seemed like the crying might never end. He eventually out-grew that, but still he isn't very content unless someone is holding him. This has caused the past seven months to feel like a blur in my memory, and has caused me to become extremely grateful for naps, no matter how long they last. 

I am beginning to find my footing as a mom to three... I think. I say this with hesitation, though, because as soon as I find a new rhythm things seem to change. Being a mom is hard and wonderful, equally. It's a paradox of feeling and fact, of smooth sailing and a boat sinking.

There are days though, when things are going well, and it does feel like I can start to dream audacious dreams again. Sometime in 2018, when I wasn't writing at all, and all of my goals seems at a stand-still, one of my very wise friends said that perhaps what I am learning in the season of raising little kids will be what I am able to later write about. I clung to those words, grateful for that hope. So, here I am, back to writing. I plan to check in at least once a month, because those audacious dreams of mine--dreams of becoming a paid writer!--require mundane faithfulness if they are ever to happen. 

If you're still around, thank you for being here!

5/9/18

Staving Artist, a Favorite Local Business + a giveaway

This post was made possible thanks to the generosity of Staving Artist, a local, family owned business that specializes in woodworking with reclaimed products. Photos are by LYNDSI Photography.








Our love of the Staving Artist started with a wedding gift. Formed from the metal that once wrapped around a wine barrel, were the letters Esh, our last name. It was thoughtful and unique, a piece that quickly became a favorite decor item of mine. I asked the giver about the gift; she said a friend of hers custom made it.

About a year later at a local arts festival, as Herm and I were strolling along, we saw a booth with items all made from the wood of old wine barrels, and similar to our sign, there were other things made from metal wine barrel hoops as well. One that stood out to me was the distinctive 'Y' shape of Keuka Lake, the lake we can see from our deck. 

We stopped to chat with the man running the stand, and found out, yes, he was the one who made our sign. The 'Y' made its way home with us -- it's a shape locals know well, and one out-of-town-ers think is simply my take on abstract art. 

Herm found out Dan, the man who is the artist behind the pieces we have, had a Facebook page. He followed along there, and for several years, around Christmastime, would contact Dan in order to purchase a few gifts, mostly small tables made from reclaimed barrels, for people he'd done business with during the year. One of those tables, though, managed to escape the gifting process, and now resides with us. Always a conversation piece because of how unique it is.






Dan, and his fiance, Rachel, opened a storefront along Main Street in Penn Yan. While they no longer make custom names from the metal hoops like the one we were gifted on our wedding day, their product line has exploded, ranging from bottle openers and serving trays to bar stools (I wouldn't hate to have two of these for our deck. Herm, are you reading this?) and wine racks.



If you'd like something customized, the staves are a great option. We've got one that reads 'Esh Estate'. Our place was pretty much a dump when we purchased it, but Herm always referred to it as our estate, making it sound more regal than it is. Slowly, with a lot of love and a bit of hard work (or maybe a lot of hard work and a bit of love?) our place is turning into that estate we've been dreaming about.

With an Anthropologie vibe to it, every time I go in their small shop, I leave feeling inspired. (And wishing for more.) 

Recently I've gotten to know Rachel as a friend. So when she approached me about possibly collaborating on a project, immediately I knew my answer was 100%, YES! I love Staving Artist, the ten plus items I have from their shop is proof. And I'm guessing that you might like them too.

Rachel brought a whole bunch of their products over to my house, and for the better part of a day, she and I, along with our friend Lyndsi of LYNDSI Photography, styled the products to photograph for their website. It was such fun, not to mention creatively invigorating as well.










As part of the collaboration, Staving Artist generously offered one of their 1/2 Barrel Head Demi Lune Tables for a giveaway on my Instagram account. I don't want you to miss out on a chance to win! So make sure you take a few minutes to enter. The steps are simple, and everything you need to know, you'll find here

In the mean time, you can learn more about Staving Artist and see what they have to offer on their website. Also, be sure to follow along on Instagram and Facebook! If you're ever in the Finger Lakes region, visit the shop at 109 Main Street, Penn Yan, NY. You won't regret it!