Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays!

{Our seventh Christmas tree together - maybe one day we'll have room enough for a tree that properly fits our star - !}

Happy Christmas Eve, friends!

I hope this is a day (and week) of rest and rejuvenation for you - even better if it coincides with spending time with the people you love most. We plan to attend our Church's Christmas Eve service tonight, and spend most of tomorrow with my family. Very peaceful and low key - my favorite kind of holiday.

I'm signing off for the rest of the week to be with my very favorite people. I'll see you all after Christmas!



Friday, December 21, 2012

Loving this Week - Statement Lighting

This week I'm loving the bold statements made by each of the amazing light fixtures in all of these inspiring spaces. The lighting speaks volumes about each room, creating an interesting, beautiful focal point. I love how unique they each feel. Thanks to the lighting, these aren't your average rooms. 

Which one is your favorite? 



Wednesday, December 19, 2012

3 Meaningful Christmas Gift Ideas

{Camel anyone?}

This time of year, we as Western media consumers face an immeasurable array of choices - particularly when it comes to how we will choose to spend the money we've worked hard to earn. With the frenzied media emphasis on spending and an near constant barrage of advertisements, sales, and special deals, its all too easy to forget why we are buying gifts in the first place. Christmas is at its core, a celebration of the day that Jesus was born on the earth. The celebration of the beginning of his life on earth can be and is celebrated in all kinds of ways, and I think a brilliant way is to meet the needs of the world's poorest and most marginalized people in the name of someone you love. That is exactly what we intend to do this year. 

I wanted to highlight three international organizations that make it easy to participate in giving communities of the world sustainable food sources, income streams, access to better nutrition, health care, education, clean water, and fuel. So here are my three favorites: 

Heifer International began in 1944, when the organization's founder, Dan West, decided that providing a family with a source of food and income was a far better and more sustainable way to help a needy family, and in turn, their entire community. Heifer provides all kinds of animals to families - but not without preparing them with training on how to properly feed, shelter, care for, and breed their cows, goats, camels, sheep, chickens, rabbits, even water buffalo (!)  Before an animal is delivered to a family, a proper pen and shelter is built, and the family commits to "pass on the gift" to their neighbors through the animals' offspring. And all animals are carefully chosen for the areas they are sent to, ensuring the best chance of survival for the animals and the best fit for the environment. Check out all the gift options here. 

Oxfam is an international relief and development organization that works to end poverty by helping people and communities overcome it. Working in over 90 countries around the world, Oxfam is a totally independent organization that accepts no funding from governments so that they can carry on in their vision without compromise. 

There is so much hope in the faces of this family. I love seeing that! Through their gift catalog, you can provide animals, books, education, gardens, water pumps, building restoration and a day's wage. See all the gifts available on Oxfam's gift page.

Compassion International is one of the leaders in Child Sponsorship, which is a model I wholeheartedly support. Through child sponsorship, families vulnerable to separation because of poverty can stay together, and the child's unique needs are addressed. I can imagine the relief it must be to parents to have such direct help in meeting their children's basic needs, ensuring they receive an education, access to proper nutrition, health care, and individual love and support from a local church personally acquainted with them. With Compassion International, the opportunity to sponsor a child with an ongoing donation of $38 per month is a great way to extend a Christmas gift throughout the year while getting to know a particular child. They also have a one-time gift catalog with options that range from mosquito nets to emergency meals to HIV tests and career guidance. Choose a compassion gift here.

There you have it - three exceptional organizations to help facilitate meaningful Christmas gifts. I'm quite sure that I've missed dozens of other amazing ones - so tell me, who are your favorite charitable organizations?



Monday, December 17, 2012

Styled - Jong Ro Inspired Living Room

I stumbled upon the gorgeous painting At Peace by Jong Ro on Pinterest months ago, and it was instant love. The saturated navy and teal combination is heavenly, and I adore those strong ochre pops. Today, its the inspiration for this warm, modern living space.

2. 4 Light Hampton Chandelier from Lighting Universe
5. Under These Things They Sleep Series, Erased Print by Julie Massy via Little Paper Planes
6. Tatum Throw in Teal from World Market
7. Bryant 76" Sofa from Ethan Allen
8. Bello Shag Rug from West Elm
9. Daunan Coffee Table from Weylandts



Friday, December 14, 2012

{Infinite Value}

Last night my wonderful, strong, brave, amazing friend posted this quote to her facebook profile: 

"It is a miracle if you find true friends, and it is a miracle if you have enough food to eat, and it is a miracle if you get to spend your days and evenings doing whatever it is you like to do, and the holiday season - like all other seasons - is a good time not only to tell stories of miracles, but to think about miracles in your own life, and be grateful for them." -Lemony Snicket, the Lump of Coal

This friend has been in total isolation for the last 9 days while she is treated with a powerful dose of radiation to combat thyroid cancer. 

Her quote, and another message she sent me about how much she is looking forward to doing some very simple things again when treatment is over, has sent me into deep retrospection about how significant and fragile life is, and how sweet and fleeting the moments are that come together to write the larger story of our lives. 

Over the last few months, my husband and I have each felt a strong pull toward the unknown future we are walking into - and with it, a certain uncomfortable awareness of how much we don't actually know anything about it. At times, its made us angry, pensive, lonely. And other times, its brought with it a tremendous feeling of privilege and joy - that we have the unfathomable blessing of living our lives. My life. Jeremy's life. Our life together. 

It is true - uncomfortably true - that our lives are very, very short. What we choose to do with each day, each moment, is extraordinarily important. In the coming new year, I want to grow in my awareness of this truth in a way that empowers me to deeply, fully live into my days. If only it wasn't so hard to actually do. I suppose that is the discipline of it. 

"My response is to get down on my knees before the Father, this magnificent Father who parcels out all heaven and earth. I ask him to strengthen you by his Spirit - not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength - that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in. And I ask Him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you'll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ's love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God." Ephesians 3:14-19, The Message Translation



Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Peru, Chapter 6 - Arequipa!

 Well, this is the very last chapter of the chronicles of our Peru trip - Arequipa! We really saved a beautiful city for last.

Our one and only day in Arequipa began with another TripAdvisor recommendation - Santa Catalina Convent. It is the most tranquil, beautiful place - surrounded by the busy hustle of the city on every side. The monastery was built in 1580, and nuns still live in a corner of the complex closed to the public. The majority of the complex is open to explore at your own pace. The walls of the convent are so thick and aged, it seems they've mastered the art of silencing the world around them. In some places it was so peaceful, I almost felt like I could hear the sunlight warming the walls.

The convent is designed like a city, with various avenues connecting areas of different functions. All throughout are chapels, courtyards with fruit trees, fountains, and dozens upon dozens of geraniums.

{The boldly painted walls were my favorite part.}

Of course, we couldn't leave without a strong cup of tea and some carrot cake, which tasted just as delicious as it looks. 

Next began our search for more blankets, just like the one I bought in Miraflores. We spent the rest of the afternoon checking every market and shop, thinking we'd stumble upon them, but we were quite wrong. Still, we happened upon a totally fascinating food market that sold these little guys: 

Dried Fetal Llamas. Yes, that's right. 

Apparently they are used in traditional sacrifice to the Inca gods. We particularly liked tiny little hats, which made them just that much more creepy. 

This market sold all kinds of things other than dried fetal llamas (!). It was split into all of the expected grocery store sections - fruits, vegetables, meats, dairy, breads, medicinal, etc. Upstairs were fabric vendors and sellers with stalls full of batteries and chintzy things like cell phone covers and plastic jewelry. Other than the llamas, the most interesting thing we saw was a freshly decapitated sheep's head. Hair, eyes, and teeth still intact. Luckily for you, I was too shocked to document that! 

 {I have absolutely no idea what these buns with clay characters in them are all about. Anyone know?}
{This purple corn is used to make candy that you can find all over the place. Chicha is made of it as well. }

After lots more shopping at various craft vendors, we decided to have lunch. We chose this restaurant, which you can just barely see at the top left corner of the photo above. It has four levels, and we ate on the roof. Just across from our table was a gorgeous mountain view. 

{Cusqueña and Jugo Mixto with a pizza on its way - this is the life}
Just after lunch, we began the walk back to our hotel before we needed to head to the airport to go back to Lima. I was so in love with the Jacaranda trees, just blooming. It reminds me of Johannesburg, my hometown. 
{This photo is so funny to me. Little spiderman had just thrown a fit and received a serious swat on the bum for it. I thought the whole scene was hilarious! You go Mom.}

Arequipa is another city I had a hard time saying goodbye to. We hardly scratched the surface of what it had to offer, and loved it. Before we knew it, we were on our way home, and our Peruvian adventure had come to a close. Amazing how something you anticipate for so long can arrive so slowly, and pass so quickly.

What an amazing journey it was. 
And next time, Arequipa - we'll be back for you. 



Monday, December 10, 2012

Styled - Yellena James Inspired Dining Room

Isn't the work of illustrator Yellena James just beautiful? I think her color choices and use of line and movement are totally mesmerizing. Her prints are available on Etsy for a steal - check out her shop here. For this week's Styled post, Yellena's Silk Print inspired a modern dining space with a just touch of warmth. 

1. Currey & Company Light Seaward Chandelier from Lighting Universe
2. Silk Print by Yellena James on Etsy
3. Pooled Gold Highball Glass from Anthropologie
4. Spin Salad Plates from World Market
5. Nate Berkus Picture Frame from Target
7. Capri Blue Jar Candle in Turquoise from Anthropologie
8. Chilton 72 Cherry Dining Table from Room and Board
9. Lowe Khaki Side Chair from Crate and Barrel



Saturday, December 8, 2012

Loving this Week - La Mer

La Mer watches just blow me away. I love the layered, detailed look of their signature styles. And their website has a gorgeous spread of photographs, shot in South Africa! Major eye candy, friends.

They specialize in unique, colorful, elegant, and simple designs. I love the bright, punchy styles in all of these photographs.

 {All of these beautiful images come straight from La Mer's website, and belong to them}

Head on over to La Mer's website to see all their amazing designs. I have this one, this one, and this one on my wish list!




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