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write a love letter. act like a lady. be a little fancy.

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Are We All Really That Busy?


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My husband and I had Christmas parties and gatherings on our calendar this past holiday season. Lots of them. We drank, we ate, we dressed up, we ate. We ate. We ate. We also had the opportunity to catch up with lots of friends we hadn’t seen in a while. We talked about jobs, kids, family, our holiday travel plans, but the words we heard the most …. “So busy.” No matter the party, no matter the conversation. “Busy.”

I’m guilty of it myself. Someone asks how our weekend was, “busy…but fun.” How as our Christmas? “Busy. But good busy, we saw lots of friends and family.” How was our vacation? How’s being parents of two? How was our Tuesday afternoon? You guessed it. Busy. It’s become the default answer for our generation, it seems, but when did filling our calendar become more important than filling our time with the people we love? Are we really that much busier than generations before us, or is it simply that keeping up with someone’s Instagram account has become enough interaction to sustain a relationship? Being busy used to be temporary, but now it seems busy has become synonymous with success, happiness, liveliness, and adventure. We somehow value being in a constant state of frenetic activity.

I have a friend, Meghan, who I’ll call out by name because I’m about to sing her praises. She is likely the busiest person I know in the true sense of the word. She doesn’t seem to miss a birthday party, a baby shower, a music festival or a Cincinnati Reds game. I have no doubt that her calendar has very little white space. She fills her life with the people she loves and takes hundreds of fantastic pictures in the process. But here’s something else she’s good at … picking up the phone. If I text her, I typically get an immediate phone call and we cram about 4 hours of catching up into her 40 minute commute to work. Our conversations dart from high school memories, to her students, to my children and her peaks and valleys of being 8 months pregnant and then back to a favorite episode of Downton Abbey. Though, no matter the topic, a long phone call with a friend who has known you for the better part of your life always feels good doesn’t it?

While I’m confessing my bad-friend sins here … I’ll be the first one to tell you that I am horrible at talking on the phone. (I’m trying to get better this year, I promise friends!) I’ll see a missed call, vowing to call them back but choosing to finish a list of other tasks first. What I’m realizing, though, is that it’s just that. A choice. I’m choosing to let other things take priority or to just text my friends when I’m thinking of them rather than dialing their number. Why? Because I’m busy of course, and that way I can hold conversations with several friends all at once. I can check in, check the box, and keep checking off my to do list. An exchange of quality for quantity, but it’s just not the same as hearing someone’s voice.

My hope this year is that you’ll join me in making people a priority. It may not feel like you have the time for a quick phone call, but I can promise you it’s there if you want to find it badly enough.

Make the time, then make the call. I promise you won’t regret it.

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Hamilton Stinks…In a Good Way


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“This May look weird” … was what I heard When I was unwrapping my Christmas gift from my best friend this year. I pulled an empty jar out of a brown paper bag that read “Petals and Wicks”. Reading the confused face she says “we’re making candles!”. Being a DIY enthusiast, this made me all sorts of giddy inside. Needless to say this Past Saturday was spent WELL at Petals and Wicks on Main Street in Hamilton Ohio.

The store front is nestled among other old but charming buildings in the heart of Hamilton and the interior is even more welcoming. Opening the door we were immediately greeted by one of the many wonderful smells and two cheery smiles, owner Mike Hoskins and his niece.

They walked us through the picking, pouring, and finishing steps with enthusiasm and good humor. The prices are well within reason, 17$ for a jar and candle making class…yes please!

The …settling? ( pardon my lack of candle creator lingo) Process after you pour the candle takes about 90 minutes — just enough time for us to pop into True West, for a coffee; Henry’s, for a coconut haystack; and Sarah’s House, to dream of one day having a house that is decorated half as cute as her store.

90 short minutes later we were on our way and I was sniffing my elderflower, olive blossom and, gardenia candle, hand crafted by yours truly.

Needless to say, Hamilton smells …SO good.

Thanks Petals and Wicks!

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How to Live Your Best Life … As Told by My Dog


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This is my Rosey girl. She’s a 4 year old yellow Lab and is simultaneously the apple of my eye and the thorn in my side. She is a boisterous balance of laziness and a frenzy of flying white fur. She has a precious face and a head full of rocks. She’s as sweet as she is sour, as smart as she is flighty, she is a money pit, an absolute nut, and also the best dog on the planet.

A few days ago I was watching her loaf around the house, from her favorite spot on the carpet to her bed and then to a sunny spot in the center of the floor where she let our robot vacuum (that we had to buy solely because of the amount of hair she loses) make its way around her. I thought, “You sure do have it made, Rosebud. Life is good isn’t it?” What a valuable lesson I was being taught. Life is good. Especially if you live life like your dog in these simple ways:

  1. Be a Great Friend. Be so full of love and loyalty that it makes your whole body wiggle with excitement. Live for the affection of the people you love. Give it right back.
  2. Let your energy fill the room. Show off your fun-loving spirit to the point that it borders on obnoxious. Give your friends a gentle nudge when they’re feeling low, stare them down until they get off the couch if need be.
  3. Forgive. Maybe they broke a promise, lied to you or disappointed you. Maybe they yelled at you because you ate the baseboards. Forgive them anyway.
  4. Love yourself. Bark at your own reflection when you catch a glimpse. You’re just that adorable.
  5. Be Persistent. Let no one tell you no when it comes to something you want badly enough. Like dinner at 3:00pm, two breakfasts, or that plate full of brownies on the counter, for example.
  6. Greet everyone with a friendly face.
  7. Eat whatever you want every once in a while. Hot fudge sundaes. Cookies. Fried chicken. The cat’s litter box. Whatever your culinary soft spot may be, indulge every so often.
  8. Ignore boundaries that keep you from chasing your dreams … or a herd of whitetail deer. Even if that boundary happens to be a fence. Run at top speed into the woods then trot back home with tail and tongue wagging.
  9. Find immense joy in life’s simple pleasures. Naps. Several in the same day if you need it. Belly scratches. Fresh air in your face while riding in the car. Every day is full of tiny treasures you just have to find them.
  10. Live every day like it is the best day of your entire life. Make a fuss over nothing. Let your hair down…and leave it in every corner of the house. Bark at the garbage truck. Roll around in the snow until you’re soaking wet. Crave adventure and sniff it out until you find it and love life with every fiber of your being.


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Grace. Love. And a Brand New Year


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Every new year starts with resolutions. Promises to eat better, critiques of our relationships, judgments of our lack of motivation to make it to the gym. We take advantage of an opportunity to turn a negative into a positive. A flaw into a quality. To make ourselves just a little bit better.

But what if we focused on making our strengths stronger instead? Sure, there is always room for self improvement, but wouldn’t it be refreshing to start each year with positivity and an optimistic perspective? Maybe last year didn’t go quite the way you thought it would. Maybe you didn’t get the promotion you thought you deserved. Maybe a your relationship with a friend or family member began to fracture. Or maybe the stars just didn’t align when you wanted them to. Rather than looking back at 2018 with disdain and disappointment look for the opportunities to make things better in 2019. A chance to work harder. A chance to forgive. A chance to trust God and his plan. A chance to start the new year with grace and love.

Consider how a slight shift in your perspective could spread to other people. Use your resolutions this year to make your little corner of the world a little bit brighter. Could you resolve to make the life of a stranger better this year, even for just a moment? Promise to keep the promises you make to your children. Make your spouse a higher priority. Show kindness, slow down, offer forgiveness (or ask for it), work hard and use your God-given talent to do some real and recognizable good this year.

Sincerely,

Doris Jane

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The Best Way to Start Your New Year


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Christmas is over. The wild ride that is December has finally come to a slow stop. Every season we do our best to think of what our loved ones want for Christmas, we try to set the table perfectly, cook the food to everyone’s liking, decorate to the nines but, it never fails that the smallest moments take my breath away and make me the most thankful for this season of giving. 

Every year I’m humbled at the amount of time and effort that everyone spent on their gifts to me or their excitement to see me. And every year I find myself wanting to give more and do more. I think that’s the greatest gift Christmas can give us- an eager and humble heart to start the new year with and to end the year with.  One of my favorite verses in the Bible states that “a cheerful heart makes good medicine medicine” so, have a cup of cheer and have a happy new year! 

Sincerely,
DorisJane 

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The Laundry Can Wait


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     Eating lunch with my two year old is the highlight of my days at home with him. We discuss our post-nap plans, talk about dinosaurs and our trips to the park and hold after-lunch-dessert negotiations. Last week as I sat across from him listening to the day’s campaign strategy about why he needs a handful of M&Ms and watching as he fed his dinosaurs imaginary dino food from his plate, it hit me.

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     I stared at his sweet little peanut butter and jelly stained face, his tiny dimpled chin just barely grazing the top of the kitchen table, and I suddenly had the humbling realization that some day I’m going to blink and he’s going to be taller than me. He’s going to scarf down two or three sandwiches instead of hardly finishing half like he does now. He’s going to eat and run out the door to meet his friends, snatching his car keys off the counter on his way out.

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     It made me remember a line from the letter my mom wrote me on my wedding day. “The laundry can wait.” Right then, I made a promise to myself. I vowed to stop trying to do everything all at once and be present for these precious moments with my babies while they’re still babies. The dishes will still be there in an hour … or tomorrow. The dust and dog hair on my floor are going to seemingly regenerate immediately no matter how many times I sweep. I told myself I’d try harder to get up before they do to get a jump on some household chores because the half hour of missed sleep means I get to sit down and discuss our favorite dinosaurs over a plate of chicken tenders and sliced grapes. I get to slow down for a little bit and just be with my little ones and if there is one thing having a toddler – and now a newborn – has taught me, it’s that being present is much more than enough.

     So at risk of becoming just another voice in the constant buzz in a new mom’s ear, I’d like to pass-on what I’ve learned from my toddler, because sometimes the tiniest voices are the loudest (As a “#boymom,” I mean that both literally and figuratively.) He doesn’t care if our windows are clouded with handprints or the smudges from him making silly, smoosh faces on the glass. He doesn’t care if we do Pinterest-worthy activities or if every meal we have is home cooked and healthy.

     What he wants is for me to sit down, device and distraction free, and talk about how many horns the rhino at the zoo has (it’s “one, two, four horns” in case you’re wondering.) He wants to help me make brownies and change his baby brother’s diaper. Because for a child, being present is enough. Sharing a meal is enough. Holding him and reading “Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site” for the 357th time is enough. Let your time, your attention and yourself be enough my fellow mamas. Wrap your arms around them and hold on tight while they’re still tiny. Tickle them, tell them stories, kiss the cheeks off their little faces and, for Heaven’s sake …. The laundry can wait.

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Hurry Up and Slow Down


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Does anyone else feel like the remainder of the year is pushed on you – hurrying you through the last few months of the year in a frenzy of pumpkins, turkey, and lights.

     Ads for Halloween seem to start before the leaves have even changed color, quickly followed, or sometimes preceded by commercials for Black Friday and Christmas catalogs. But why are we in such a hurry to get to January? Do we love the holidays so much that we want to get to the next one? Is it a haunting memory from a previous year that you long to forget? Or is it that we’re so stressed about getting just the right gifts that by the time we stop to take a look around the Christmas tree is at the curb.

     This year we’d like to challenge you to hurry up and slow down. Throughout the holiday season we’re going to post something that encourages you to see the little blessings in everyday
life, especially around the holidays. I’m a big fan of living in the present but I am an even bigger fan of video recordings. No, not a boomerang but an actual video. Yes, I’m that person with the video camera at the parties. For me, memories are the best thing you can give me.

There is no gift on Earth that could replace the happiness that everyday moments caught on tape give me. My grandpa rocking in his chair on his 90 th birthday, grandma singing along to her favorite song, my mom and sister laughing in the snow trying to take a picture. Its funny how sometimes it seems more difficult to find great joy in the little blessings than it is to brush off the smallest of shortcomings.

So, this holiday season take it easy. Tape the little moments you’ll want to last forever. Don’t stress over the perfect gift or the perfect dinner just “be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger” – James 1:19

Oh, and if you were planning on getting me a Christmas gift…smile for the camera.

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5 Minute Pick Me Ups


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We all want more time in the day. We have to do-lists that get all of our attention and a seriously neglected want-to list that seems to take the backseat at every turn. But here’s something else we all have, whether we’ll willing to admit it or not, five minutes. Everyone has five minutes. No matter how busy you think you are, we’re willing to bet if you really looked hard at your day, you could find just five minutes to slow down, look around you and treat yourself to a little bit of “me time.”

Let the dishes and the laundry and e-mails wait. We promise the world won’t come crashing down around you. It’s Friday friends, and you deserve a little break, a treat, or, heavens, even just a few minutes to close your eyes and catch your breath.

What do we like to do to fill our five minutes? We thought you’d never ask …

1. Flip through old photos – vacations, loved ones at a younger age, a family pet you miss dearly. Take a little trip down memory lane and let your mind wander.

2. Get outside – listening to the birds or feeling the sun on your face is sure to put you in a better mood almost instantly.

3. Play with your dog – Was there ever a creature so loyal and loving as the family dog? Throw a ball, take a walk or just let them run and watch how much joy they find in such simple things.

4. Pick up your bible/devotional – We’re both reading “Jesus Calling” and it’s the perfect little 30 second pick me up.

5. Unplug – here’s one of our favorites. Close your laptop, turn off your wifi and hide your phone from yourself. We love to disconnect for a little while.

6. Paint your nails – isn’t it amazing what a fresh coat of polish can do to make you feel like you just did something special for yourself? Pick up a new color or dig out your old favorite and treat yourself to a 5 minute manicure.

7. Write – whether it’s journaling, poetry, letters to a friend, writing is a great way to let yourself daydream for a few minutes.

Tell us: What are your favorite ways to unwind?

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5 Tips for Taking REALly Great Photos


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Children see beauty in just about everything. They are eye level with tiny details we tend to walk right by as adults. They notice shiny orange pennies dropped and forgotten in a parking lot. Playful shadows on a sunny day. Tiny flowers growing up through cracks in the sidewalk. Is this all because children are easily distracted, or are they simply less distracted? Free from cell phones, adult conversations and the rest of the world hurrying along around them.

By now we’re sure you’ve seen hundreds of Instagram accounts full of highly filtered and heavily photoshopped photos of places we’ve never seen before. Photos that compete with one another for brighter colors, simpler backgrounds and more beautiful landscapes. We started thinking, what if we simply captured what captures the eye of the little ones around us? What if we also learned to find pure and absolute joy in the simple things around us every day. At what age do we stop giggling about a wave lapping at our toes, or collecting a bouquet of fallen flowers while out for a walk with our dog?

Em’s son has taught us that maybe a great photo doesn’t require hours of editing behind a computer screen. Maybe it doesn’t need to have colors and contrast adjustments or all signs of blemish removed or altered backgrounds. Perhaps all we have to do is just slow down, pay attention and remember our 5 tips for taking REALly great photos.

  1. See the world from the eye of a child. Turn off your ringer and look around. High, low, above and under. Be on the lookout for a new perspective rather than always shooting down on what you’re seeing. You can even try putting your camera level with the ground.
  2. Let your childish curiosity guide you. Have you ever noticed how often something catches the eye of a toddler and off they go; wandering hurriedly toward their new discovery. Let yourself do just that and take photos along the way.
  3. Take a knee. Kneel or sit next to a child, especially when taking photos of them. You’ll be surprise how different your photos will look. The details you’ll catch, the expressions on their tiny faces, not only will you have a better point of view, you’re also likely to get a better background and maybe even catch breathtaking lighting.
  4. Never neglect your zoom. Use your zoom feature to your advantage. Zoom in super close and capture little things like the curls in your sons hair or the crinkle in your grandma’s nose when she laughs. Zoom out for a reminder of just how teeny your kids were once.
  5. Put down your phone/camera. We’ve all been there. Standing on the beach staring at a beautiful sunset through the lens of our camera or the screen of our phone, trying to get a picture that does justice to the colors. Sometimes it’s better to settle for the not-like-real-life photo and put the camera away and let the colors and beauty live in your memory.

Wishing you all curiosity, fun and fantastic photos …

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Dance Like Someone’s Watching…


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Last week Jess attended a dance at Cincinnati’s Music Hall featuring the Harry James Orchestra. But, it was more than a dance. It was a lesson. We’d like to contradict the popular saying of Dance like nobody’s watching and replace it with Dance like someone’s watching, and heres why.

5 Reasons you should ditch the phrase Dance like nobody’s watching and instead, Dance like someone’s watching.

  1. You get to be a extra. As one of America’s greatest dancers, Fred Astaire, said “Do it big, do it right and do it with style.” These dances, hosted twice a year by WMKV radio, are one of my favorite reasons to get all dolled up for a night on the town. I’ve learned that most people who enjoy big band music also appreciate a lady in gloves.

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    Jess and long time, fellow old soul, friend Rebecca before the dance.
  2. You get to be a lady. As I watched everyone dance, wishing I had 1/10th of their talent, a slower song came on. My Grandpa leaned over and said “Thats about our speed isn’t it”. I can’t say I have ever received a sweeter invitation to join someone on the dance floor.
  3. Music is a free time machine.What I love most about music is that it connects me to memories, not just my own but my loved ones. Dancing with my grandpa, listening to him hum along to the tune of Harry James’ Orchestra is something I know I’ll remember whenever I hear that song.

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    Emily and our “Poppy” at the Glenn Miller Orchestra Dance. October 2017
  4. You meet new people. Surely if I’m dancing like no one is watching, I have no interest in dancing with someone other than myself (“sorry pal, you don’t exist.”). But, if you’re dancing like someone is watching, (“Hello sir, charmed I’m sure.”)

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    Jess being shown how to swing at the Glenn Miller Orchestra Dance. October 2017
  5. When that someone asks you to dance, it feels like no ones watching. Whether you’re pining over the guy/ gal across the hall or you’re dancing the night away with your Grandpa/Grandma, let the music take you away. Someone was watching and once you’re with them, no one else matters.

Sincerely,

DorisJane.