Saturday, July 31, 2010

Island Adventure....

Anna Maria Island Summer 2010
Days spent catching fish and wearing the pink tutu til it nearly fell apart.

Sweet friendships that will be for a lifetime

Pure Peace

Finding her first clam

Some of our favorite people in the world

Solving all of the world's problems one beach trip at a time...

We spent a couple of days at Anna Maria Island this week with our sweet friends who feel way more like 
I can't tell you enough how amazing it is during this season of life to live in a place that is so close to 
so many delightful places that are just a couple hours drive from our house.
 Anna Maria is located on the Gulf Coast just beyond Tampa, Florida...
The waters are crystal clear and all the perfect shades of blue and green.
 It's quaint and quiet with a small beach town feel.
There aren't any buildings over three stories which means you can actually see the beauty.
I loved that the beaches weren't was nice to not worry about losing a child in the crowd.
We had breakfast at a hole in the wall that served the most amazing homemade cinnamon buns.
I seriously think they were the size of my head, and I ate every single bite.
We also had dinner at a great seafood joint where we had dinner out back on the patio
overlooking the ocean.
Does it get any better?
I was so relaxed that I could have fallen asleep in my plate of food had it not been so delicious.

I hate to recommend it cause it's kind of a "best kept secret" kind of place....
but, I just can't keep the goodness to myself.

Linking up with Home is Where You Start From for a photo challenge!
Linking up with Melissa because this time spent with family and friends inspired me this week!

inspired room

Friday, July 30, 2010

Need Help!

I went to do a post today, and it looks like blogger has changed the way you upload your pictures.  Every time I try to upload one, it says..."Server Rejected."

I've gone to and read about this new feature for uploading photos.  I have the most recent, up-to-date flash and I have Mozilla FireFox for a browser.  I've tried "un-checking" blogger in draft as a default, I've tried going into the settings and changing the "up-dated version" for my editor...nothing that I've tried works.

Wow.  This is my first real problem with Blogger, and I have to say...I am frustrated.

It's so bizarre to not be able to switch back to an "old" way of doing things.  I like that they are trying to give us a way to upload multiple pictures at once, but I'm not sure why it works for some and not for others.

Any suggestions? 

Can anybody out there tell me if I'm doing something wrong?

**Update 7/31/10**
We worked on this problem for hours throughout the past couple of days, and the only thing that solved the problem of uploading pictures into my post was downloading the free software from Picasa Web and uploading my pictures from there.  What a total drag all of this has been...

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

40 Classic books to read before 40

When I turned 37 last month, I started thinking of all the things that I want to do before I turn 40!
You can read about those things here.

One of my goals was to make a list of 40 classics that I want to read (or re-read) over the next three years.
So, I made my list here in this post and, obviously, reading the 40 books on my list is another thing on the list.
Which is never gonna happen if I don't finally sacrifice some brainless nighttime tv that I've been watching.
*insert long sigh*

What a dreadful habit to get into at night after the kids are all tucked in their beds. 
I kind of regret that I've found myself feeling like I "deserve" a few shows each night.
  I wonder why I didn't tell myself that I "deserve" to read beautiful classic books instead? 
Being able to read is a gift and I'm bound and determined to make better use of my time.  

 Linking up with:

tuesdays unwrapped at cats

When you reread a classic, you do not see more in the book than you did before;
you see more in you than was there before." 
-Clifton Fadiman

1. A Thomas Jefferson Education by Oliver DeMille CHECK.
2. The Chosen by Chaim Potok
3. Little Britches by Ralph Moody
4. Laddie by Jeanne Stratton-Porter
5. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery  CHECK.
6. The Lonesome Gods by Louis L'Amour
7. The Declaration of Independence
8. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
9. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
10.The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare
11.Walden by Henry David Thoreau
12.Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe CHECK.
13.The Odyssey by Homer
14.The Magna Charta
15.The Monroe Doctrine
16.The Making of America by W. Cleon Skousen
17.Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
18. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
19.Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
20.Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
21.Walden by Henry David Thoreau
22.The Abolition of Man by C.S. Lewis
23.The Taming of the Shrew by William Shakespeare
24.The Weight of Glory by C.S. Lewis
25.Persuasion by Jane Austen
26.Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte CHECK
27.Alas Babylon by Pat Frank
28.Eight Cousins by Lousia May Alcott
29.Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift
30.Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
31.War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
32.Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare
33.Soldiers, Statesmen and Heroes by Jay A. Parry
34.Joan of Arc by Mark Twain
35.The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom CHECK
36.Ben Hur by Lew Wallace
37.The Real Thomas Jefferson by Andrew Allison
38.The Virginian by Owen Wister
39.Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon
40.The Real Benjamin Franklin by Andrew Allison

Monday, July 26, 2010

Good Things Come In Small Packages.

Winter Park, Florida
another great drive-by

When we bought our first home, I dreamed constantly of the next one we would live in.
We would drive through neighborhoods and talk about what we wanted in our next home,
and it was always more space, you know, bigger and better.

I'm sure my dreams started to change when we had finished renovating our third home about five years ago.
My husband was away on a mission trip with the students from our church, and I was holding down the fort.
While away at the grocery store, some workers from the city were shrieking the underground sewage system.
Something went wrong and all the sewage from the city exploded through every open drain in our home.
I came home with our two boys and a car full of groceries to find our house flooded.  destroyed.

One thing is for sure.
You figure out who you really are when something in your life goes against your plans.
I didn't like who I was that summer.
I felt turned inside out and totally exposed.
My *stuff* was gone.

I didn't like that the material possessions mattered so much to me.
The whole situation caught me off guard.
I never knew they were that important until i didn't have some of them anymore.

We moved into our fourth home and once again enjoyed renovating it.
We had made a huge dent in the process when we realized we'd be moving to Orlando.
The house wasn't a dream home, but I loved many parts of it, especially the kitchen.

the job in orlando provided us with a parsonage to live in.
it's a home that is sometimes given to pastors' families to live in while they serve in a particular position. 

It's funny to live in a home that isn't ours and love it so much.
When you can't knock down walls, add hardwoods to the bedrooms, or get rid of popcorn ceilings...
You're kind of forced content to work on the relationships living inside the home.

Can you see a theme?
A life lesson that I have learned is that houses are just houses and stuff is just stuff at the end of the day.
Again.  I would've said that I knew that, but what do you really know until it's all put to a test?

All these years and lessons later, my desires have changed.
My idea of a dream  home is different.
It's smaller than I imagined.
It's paid for.
It overflows with love from a great marriage and joyful children.

I love the idea of "smaller house...bigger life."

Saturday, July 24, 2010

They Want a Treehouse.

my boys woke up talking about a treehouse this morning.
they were making plans.
they drew pictures of what they wanted.
it was like sweet music to my ears listening to them dream about all that they plan to do in it.
they want beds.
they want shelves for their board games
they want a screened-in porch with chairs.
they want a slide coming out of the top of it and rope swings hanging from it.

i love when they dream big.
and i'd give anything to give them their dream treehouse.
but, as the old saying goes.
"they've got champagne taste on a beer budget."

their daddy has them at home depot now checking out books that showcase every kind of treehouse there is.
i told him to break it to them gently what kind they're more likely to get....

drum roll, please.....

okay, won't be that bad!!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Colors of Summer

fresh picked flowers, bicycle rides, proof of children, and doors as yellow as the sun
colored pencils and a craft room as bright as a rainbow
laundry that can breathe, a colorful fence, cool breezes blowing, and the perfect afternoon nap
kitchen full of fresh fruits and veggies, meal outside with friends, and the perfect bathroom for a cool shower

i see summer in bright colors.
every detail in every picture makes me happy.
the only thing that would make me happier  
is if i could learn my fancy camera enough to have taken all these yummy pictures myself!
if you wanna see more, go here.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

forty before 40.

I sat down a few weeks ago when I turned 37 
and started this post of 40 things I really want to do before I turn 40.
I like to make lists and cross things off,
and I like to constantly give myself goals, so that life isn't too boring.
*like raising three kids leaves any room for boredom*

I might not get them all accomplished.  Truth be told, I might even tweak this list some over the next three years 
because time has a way of changing your mind, doesn't it?
It's gonna sound weird, but for me, it's as much about making the list as it is about crossing everything off.
 Life has a way of coming in and keeping us from dreaming about things that we really want to do in life.
This is my way of dreaming out loud so someone besides me can see it and help push me toward my dreams.

Without further adieu....

1. Do another Daniel fast.
2. Read through the bible again.
3. Consistently have more people in our home for dinner.
4. Host a craft night at my house.
5. Write handwritten letters to friends on their birthdays.
6. attain pre-baby weight. (can't believe I just typed that!)
7. ride in a hot air balloon.
8. drive something other than a mini-van....sorry, I'm over mine!
9. wash my van regularly.
10. take a photography class.
11. family mission trip.
12. take a cooking class.
13. take the kids to Washington, DC.
14. buy a juicer.
15. give up diet coke for good.
16. plant a garden.
17. romantic get away with Andy.
18. go to my 20 year class reunion.
19. sell our house in Georgia.
20. see my brother more.
21. read 40 books.
22. Go to NYC with Andy.
23. build a fire pit.
24. get caught up on my kids' scrapbooks without losing my mind.
25. find a local place to serve.
26. do something with my love for words
27. weekend trip with my girlfriends.
28. Drive up Hwy. 101 from Los Angeles to San Francisco with Andy.
29. drink 64 ounces of water daily.
30. take a vacation with friends to the beach.
31. consistently date Andy.
32. journal more regularly again.
33. go back to India.
34. go to the beach with my mom.
35. hike tallulah gorge.
36. learn to knit.
37. Go zip-lining
38. Disney cruise with my parents & my brother's family.
39. go to the country living fair in Atlanta.
40. own another home that we can truly live and let out kids grow up in.

I decided to do a 40 before 40 because there are way too many things that I want to do in a year.
Surely, if I give myself three years I can get it all done! 
If you're wondering where I got this idea, you can check out
 Meg and Edie's lists.
and I'm linking up with Emily at Chatting at the Sky 
because reaching toward 40 is a gift that I'm choosing to unwrap.
 tuesdays unwrapped at cats

Monday, July 19, 2010

Coupons and Things I'd Buy with the Money Saved...


source: farmgirl paints etsy shop

 source: home and harmony etsy shop

 source: pretties and posies etsy shop

I have literally had coupons on the brain for what seems like years.
It's one of those things that I want to learn to do that hangs over my head like a dark cloud.
My mom did it growing up, but she wasn't like these rockstars that you read about today.
Seriously.  There are people who get $200 worth of groceries for $16.

People have said that Southern Savers and Coupon Mom and I heart Publix are amazing sites, but honestly...I can't figure it out.

Here's my big dilemma with becoming a coupon rockstar.
I buy raw fruits and vegetables and I try to stay away from most processed foods.
We still eat some of the processed stuff, but it bothers me and so I try.

How can you be a coupon rockstar if you don't want processed foods and frozen or canned fruits and veggies?

I'm pretty sure we spend way too much money on groceries.
I'd love to save money,  but I'm not sure how.

See all of those amazing goodies from
Farmgirl Paints, Home and Harmony and Pretties and Posies?
Those are some of the things I'd buy...
if I could learn to save money in my grocery budget!!

I know this is the most amazing boring post you'll look at all day, but I really want your advice....
got any?

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Some Eye Candy and a Good Laugh...

 source: pottery barn

A friend of mine...a very funny friend of mine...sent me a link to a blog that she thought I'd appreciate.

If you want a good laugh, then go here.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Outdoor Inspiration...

Source: Pottery Barn

love the mountains.
love the lanterns.
love the beautiful woven basket full of fresh breads and veggies.
love the white dishes.
i'd eat breakfast out there.
i'd eat lunch out there.
i'd read my books out there.
i'd eat dinner out there.
i'd put my kids to bed and talk to my honey out there.

it's no fun to copy all of pottery barn's great ideas,  but this one...i'd copy.

Announcing the CSN Winner...

I'm thrilled to announce that Jennifer from  just us living by the sea won my CSN give away!


Thanks to all of you for entering!


Friday, July 9, 2010

so long insecurity.

cocoa beach, florida 2010

it's pretty safe to say that it's gonna take a whole lot more than just saying "so long insecurity"
to bid a farewell to this life long, terrible companion of mine. 
but i can assure you that i'm gonna go toe-to-toe until i can only see remnants of it's ugly face.

i'm reading a book called "So Long Insecurity" by beth moore
this was not one of the books that was on my summer reading list...
but i was unpacking a friend and i saw it and the next thing i knew, i was reading it.
here's the thing about beth moore. 
she writes as though she has read every last one of my diaries since 7th grade.  
can i just say that this book is interrupting a little thing called...
my comfort zone

it's funny how i thought i'd licked this struggle until i got to about page six of the book...
then i suddenly realized, with tears flowing, that even though i look radically different than i did a decade ago, i've still got another leg of the journey to walk.

as i'm reading the book, i'm more and more grateful for the growth that a decade has brought to me.
  i feel so much more in tune with who i am and what i like and what i don't like.
  i don't feel the need to be all things to all people like i did in my twenties.
  i would never say "no" and now i say it often with no regrets
i don't take ownership of other people's expectations of me
i'm performing less and less for acceptance and approval. 
thank God for growth.

but.  deep down... i just know that bits and pieces of insecurity still reside in me.

beth moore states that
"Insecurity's best cover is perfectionism." 
i'm embarrassed at how long i sat there looking at those words trying to argue that i wasn't a perfectionist.
i was arguing with a book.
you know you've got problems when you argue with books.

hello.  my name is tara, and i'm a perfectionist.
don't get me wrong.
i don't think that the end result of this journey will make me the opposite of who i am. 
i think i'll still function best with my house organized.
i'll still work out 3-4 times a week to be healthy and feel good about this body i'm carrying around.
  i'm pretty sure i'll still be working hard to parent and train my children. 
and i know i'll still love decorating my house with all the latest inspirations.
i hope with everything in me that the motivations of my heart are more and more pure
and not out of some selfish, insecure ambition.

i want to be able to embrace people coming to my home and everything not being in it's rightful place.

i want to begin to appreciate the body that my 37 years has given to me.
no more comparing myself to the younger me. 
...the me before stretch marks...
can i get a witness?

i want to stop comparing us to parents who do things differently than we do
and automatically assuming that we're doing it all wrong.
i want to remember what i know to be true...
no one is doing everything right all the time in parenting.
my kids watch tv.
they play video games.
they make wrong choices sometimes.
my boys argue and fight and sometimes even throw punches.
my daughter is persistent and strong willed and has a loud voice when you interrupt her plans.
we monitor their time with media and technology.
we teach them a better way when they make wrong choices.
we never allow the fighting and there are always consequences handed out.
but it all still happens.
and the truth is...
anything good in me is from God and not from myself.
my kids will survive this world by His grace alone.
not because i'm some amazing parent.
on my best day of parenting my children, i will still mess up.
and they will survive.

i tend to live inside a book like this when it rocks my world the way this one is.
i'm being challenged.
i feel a little inside out.
and it's a really good thing because change is happening.

"so long insecurity" is a great book.
you'll laugh.
you'll cry.
you'll argue with written words.
you'll feel like beth moore is your very best friend.
you'll surrender a little more of your broken self to the one who made you and loves you the most.
you'll find yourself more and more free 
and the person that he created you to be.

linking with:
inspired room

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Perfect Birthday Party Idea...

my friend tracey is a fantastic host, and she threw a fabulous 6th birthday party this week for her daughter.
 every good party has a theme, and this one was a spa party.
the girls soaked their hands and feet in warm soapy water..
got a fancy mani-pedi with the sweetest clear glitter polish...
decorated their very own little purses with jewels and glitter pens...
and they fancied-up every square inch of their hot pink sleep masks...
she even had them make their very own lip gloss in the cutest heart shaped tins from michael's craft store.
kool aid, a little water and a heaping spoonful of vasoline makes for some great lip gloss...

this perfect party was topped off with lunch for the girls..
the most delicious little sandwiches and croissants..
and pink goblets to drink their pink lemonade out of.
you've never seen girls feel so fancy.
tracey made the most  fantastic gumball cake...
the sugar from the gumballs set my teeth completely on edge, but don't think i didn't chew 4 of them. 
and did you see the fruit and marshmallow skewers?
so refreshing.

she sent the girls home with the cutest treat bags full of....
princess suckers and nail polish and big fancy rings with lip gloss and homemade kool aid lip gloss and their very own mani-pedi supplies.

if you've got a little girl in your life, this is a super special birthday party idea!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Time for a Give Away....

CSN stores has given me the opportunity to offer a $40 gift certificate to one of my friends.  You can choose from their huge selection of home goods at any of their 200 online stores.  You may be interested in picking something from their vanity selection like Rie from Home and Harmony did recently with her Albert and Dash rugs.  Below are just a few of the thousands of things that you could choose from with this $40 gift certificate from CSN.

The only thing you have to do to enter the give away is leave a comment.  I'll be using the random generator to pick the winner on Sunday, July 11th and will announce that lucky winner next Monday.  It's a bummer, but CSN only permits this give away to go to a US or Canadian reader. 

Monday, July 5, 2010

best 4th ever.

Our friends, Tim and Tracey, l.o.v.e. celebrating the 4th of July.  They are from New England, so they're just a little bit spoiled. *insert smile*   They've talked about their 4th of July "experiences" for as long as we've known them. 

After a wonderful church service yesterday, we all headed to the JW Marriott hotel for the day.  It was so much fun floating in the lazy river and watching our kids play beach volleyball and tether ball together.  We enjoyed making smores in the hotel's gigantic fire pit, and we sat in awe watching the most spectacular fireworks show we've ever seen!!  You know it's good when you cry at a fireworks show.  

Refreshing lazy river, good fellowship, delicious food and lots of laughter made for the best 4th ever.  Now I get it, and I've been convinced and a little spoiled.  I think it's safe to say that we'll always find ourselves celebrating our freedom and independence somewhere amazing like the JW Marriott.  

I wish I'd had my camera to capture the fun that we had, but I forgot it.  Don't you just hate it when that happens? ugh..........

The pictures from the website are the best that I've got for this one...Happy Monday!!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Celebrating Stars and Stripes

O! say can you see by the dawn's early light
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming,
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming
And the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there;

O! say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!
Happy 4th of July!!!

sources: Martha Stewart and unknown

linking  up with: