August 31, 2013

What Ground Beef Taught Me About Contentment

I cried over ground beef.


These were not happy tears.  No sir.  I cried miserable, ugly tears of self-pity as I stirred up that last pound of cheap, grocery store beef.

Let me share some back story.

We, my husband and kids, aren't wealthy.  At least by any American standards.  During this season in our lives, my husband earns enough to cover our bills and we might have a little leftover to go out for donuts or get a treat at the farmer's market.  Forget shopping at the mall or hiring a baby sister so we can go to a nice restaurant.  We do thrift stores and the library and parks and bunny ears for the TV because that's what we can afford.

So fast forward to last Thursday afternoon.  Payday, and my weekly grocery shopping trip, was the next day but felt like an eternity away.  We had a pound of ground beef and some rice to make dinner, plus some seasoning and condiments.  Normally, this wouldn't be a problem but it seemed like I was out of a few key ingredients for everything I wanted to make.  Everywhere I looked I saw "I can't".  On top of it all, my husband and I had been complaining to each other how it feels like we never have enough money to do anything.

We were both frustrated and discouraged.

That hunk of ground bovine was the last straw.  I grudging turned it, and it's humble side kick Rice, into a decent, filling taco bowl (minus the salsa and cheese, grumble, grumble, grumble) but it did little to erase the frustration and anger in my heart.

Payday finally arrived. Our fridge is full again.  Our bills are paid.  We actually have a little extra money to spend.  In less than 24 hours I went from bawling over dinner to giddy happiness, all over a few dollars.  I believe money can buy happiness but the way I allowed it to affect my attitude and my outlook on life is a little ridiculous.

We have a home.  We have food.  We have electricity and clean water.  We've never had to pay a bill late.  Luxuries that even some people in America can't afford.  A quick statistics search will show that we are wealthier than the majority of the world's population.  Yet I was so focused on what we couldn't do.  So attached to the misery I was creating over the lack of a few dollars.  What about all the stuff I CAN do?  We may lack a ton of money but...
...I CAN spend the afternoon outside with my kids.  A pile of dirt or a tub of soapy water is all they need to keep them occupied for hours!

...I CAN read an endless variety of books (and watch movies), thanks to our library.

...I CAN cook meals for my family, however simple they are.

...I CAN call or text my sisters and mom, all who live on the opposite side of the continent, and share the little things about our day.  

...We CAN go to the park, the farmer's market or just take a walk around the block.

...I CAN sit on our front porch each morning with a cup of coffee.  Or watch the sunset and enjoy the warm summer breeze.

...I CAN get my creative on because I have a sweet little stockpile of craft supplies that
I've accumulated over the years.

...I CAN enjoy a weekend breakfast with my family and linger at the table with my husband, dreaming about future house projects and maybe raising chickens and whatever, while our kids play outside.

...I CAN clean my house, because when I have a clean house, I have a clear and motivated mind.

...I CAN work on The Ruffled Pear, creating new designs, involving myself in the crafting community.

...Though we may not have much extra money, I CAN give my time and serve my family, my church, my community.

The simple things in life are never affected by money.  Sunrises, sunsets, hearing my children laugh, reading a good book, breathing deep and enjoying nature...all these things can be appreciated fully, whether we have all the money in the world or just enough to get by.

But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.  
I Timothy 6:8

From this moment forward I vow to seek contentment with one pound of ground beef and a few cups of rice or with much, much more.  I want to focus on what we HAVE not what we don't have.  

What about you?  Is contentment a struggle or does it come easy?  I would love to hear your experiences and tips!

August 27, 2013

Pajama Party

I am on my thirtieth something week of pregnancy and I. Am. Exhausted.  I spent a lot of the afternoon working on my Etsy shop and reading about marketing so my brain is pretty much a puddle of mush.  But apparently the kids still need to eat.  Surprise!

There was nothing in the fridge that could be made under 10 minutes unless I wanted them dining on apples and a spoonful of leftover mashed potatoes.  So I did what any sane person would do...I put them in their pj's, declared tonight pajama party night and marched them down to the neighborhood grocery store to pick out a box of cereal, juice and some muffins. 

So worth it.  I got the biggest, most chocolatey muffins I could find.  They were pretty darn good.  Now the kiddies are in bed and hopefully staying asleep.  *Sigh*  Beautiful peace and quiet.

August 23, 2013

A Few of My Favorite Things

Raindrops on roses
and whiskers on kittens
Bright copper kettles 
and warm woolen mittens
Brown paper packages tied up with string
These are a few of my favorite things...

To say I am well versed in all things Sound of Music is probably an understatement.  Growing up, I watched that movie more times than I can count and it still remains one of my favorite old films today!  Following the lead of Maria I am sharing just a few of my favorite things....from Etsy, from blogs, from my bookshelf, from pretty much anywhere!

When I pull out my supplies and transform my kitchen table into a studio each night, this podcast is the first thing that gets turned on.  Maybe it's just me, but I love listening to Tsh, the creator, and her co-hosts chat about pretty much anything: motherhood, traveling, running a home business, life in general.  It's pretty awesome.  I also happen to think that Tsh (also the creator behind is pretty amazing.  She has a love for traveling, which I share (her and her husband and kids lived in the middle east for several years), and I find her entrepreneurial spirit  and love of simplicity completely inspiring!

2. Steal Like An Artist by Austin Kleon,TopRight,1,0_SH20_.jpg

I picked this little book up at the library a few weeks ago and oh my gosh, I love it.  If you are a creator or writer, read this book.  One of my favorite quotes from this book is: 

"Copy your heroes.  Examine where you fall short.  What's in there that makes you different?  Merely imitating your heroes is not flattering them.  Transforming their work into something of your own is how you flatter them.  Adding something to the world that only you can add."

Reading this book inspired me to create, to find ways to take what I see around me and make it my own.  We all have something unique to offer the world and I think this book encourages that and helps you find ways to keep being creative.  Love it!

I am so ready for Fall, you don't even know.  I'm thinking one of these would be perfect in a month or so...

August 17, 2013

Hello World! Part Three: Starting

(This is part three of my blog introduction series.  Catch up with parts one and two)

To say something changed is a little bit of an understatement.  A lot of things changed.  We made a huge cross-country move from the southern Gulf Coast region to Idaho.  My husband got laid off soon after we moved.  We both worked minimum wage jobs for a few months until he was able to land a job in law enforcement.   I found out I was pregnant with our third child and we also bought a house...all within the last eleven months.

Needless to say, all the change and insecurity and frustration and doubt and craziness that happened somehow changed me.  Shaped my heart.  The weeks of stretching our budget taught me creativity and oddly, contentment.  Learning how to make new friends in a new town has given me courage and made me brave.  Taking on a leadership position at my job and learning new things gave me confidence.    

I honestly don't remember the moment I decided to set up shop on Etsy...for real this time.  Blame it on the pregnancy, I guess!  After years of on-and-off planning and over thinking, one day I simply decided it was time and I was going to do it.  This blog post gave me the extra shove I needed to just START, for once. 

As I said before, I had been doubting my skills and lacking courage to put my creativity on display for others to see.  I'm just me....nothing special.  I was right, I AM just me.  But turns out, Just Me is strong.  Just Me is creative.  And for the first time Just Me was fired up enough to take the plunge and go for it.  The fear that shackled my dream was gone and I was all of a sudden ready to create and share and hopefully, make my new shop into something special!

So now we have The Ruffled Pear.  And this little blog to go along with it.  It's not perfect but it's something.  We all have to start somewhere, usually somewhere insignificant and ordinary, from what I can tell.  But that doesn't mean we can't grow and make our business, our lives, something beautiful and inspiring.  We just have to start.

August 10, 2013

Hello World! Part Two: My Creative Journey

The beginning of my creative journey can really be traced back to my family.  I remember afternoons with my grandma - painting and watching Bob Ross transform a blank canvas into life-like forests.  I remember sitting (patiently?) as my mom drew whatever pictures my sisters and I described to her.  During our annual summers at the family cabin, my cousins and I invented art contests and sat around coloring (yes, even when we were in high school!).  It was a rite of passage to be part of creating a Cabin Times "newspaper" for the aunts and uncles, informing everyone of the most important weekend tragic crayfish funerals and the top Horseshoes scores!  We were a creative bunch...

At the young age of six, I guess I expressed enough interest in art that my mom enrolled me in an art class.  I don't remember too much but the canvas I painted hangs in my living room as a source of inspiration and (not going to lie!) happy pride in my artsy First Grade self! 

By that time, the love of all things artistic was firmly cemented in my heart.  I was sure I wanted to be an artist when I grew up.  I would spend hours drawing detailed pictures of the life I saw around me or what I imagined my life to look like some day.  Well into high school my love for art, particularly pencil drawing, was a way for my to release my feelings and create beauty that only existed in my mind.

But the years rolled on and I went to college, fell in love and got married.  Soon kids followed and my more traditional ways of artisitic expressions fell to the wayside. My creativity was still there, it was just making itself known in different ways, through painting and transforming our home, sewing and re-inventing clothes, making gifts for family and playing around with craft ideas I discovered on Pinterest. 

While I was pregnant with my first child, a beautiful little girl, I was struck with the urge to create for others.  To make a business out of creating beautiful things.  I would think of products to create but nothing really fit, nothing made me want to keep creating.  The entrepreneurial desire would ebb and flow, making appearances a few times a year.  I would do some planning but would always give up before I even got started.  The reason?

I was scared.

What if no one likes what I make?

Holy cow.  Those people on Etsy.  I'm not nearly as creative.  I can't compete.  

I don't have any unique ideas.  It will never work.

For years, I believed these things.  I compared my creativity to others and fell short.  Even though that little fire inside me kept burning, I could extinguish it with my lack of courage.

But then...something changed....

(....To be continued!  Part three of my journey is next!)

August 7, 2013

Hello World! Part One: What This Blog Is All About

Hi there!

Let me introduce myself.  My name is Jessica.  I am the owner of a cute little Etsy shop - The Ruffled Pear - and am the mother of almost three kids (the third is due this Fall).  I am married to a pretty awesome guy.  I love Jesus.  Also, dark chocolate, reading and spending way too much time browsing Pinterest and Etsy.

I am a little nervous about starting this whole blog deal.  I mean, I'm me.  I'm not incredibly amazing.  I'm pretty darn normal actually.  But for some reason I can't leave the idea of blogging alone.  Just like that little entrepreneurial itch that kept surfacing over and over until I FINALLY launched The Ruffled Pear.  Four years in the making, y'all.

It comes down to this:

We are all unique.  We all have something special to share with the world, no matter how "normal" or "average" we feel.  Our life experiences are incredibly unique and so worthy of being shared with others.

I believe that about others and I believe that about myself.  So with a deep breath and a lot of borrowed confindence I present to you The Ruffled Pear blog.

What can you expect to find around here?  A combination of things, really.   The Ruffled Pear Blog exists as a place for me to tell my story as a creative mother.  Everything from starting and running a homegrown business, to mothering, to integrating creativity into daily life, will be talked about here.  I promise to share honestly the struggles, the joys, the challenges, the accomplishments because it's all beautiful and all worth it.   If any of these things resonate with you please, follow along!  Share your advice.  We are in this together!

(Part two is coming next!  Get to know more about me and my creative journey!)