9.7.17

Gratia Goodies-- Journaling Goodies






In the spirit of experimentation, I pulled some of my doodles and hand~lettering into Illustrator and PS to make some printable goodies for journaling and such. I'm totally new to this type of thing, so I'm still working out the kinks and learning my way. But I thought I'd share this set of cuties for you to enjoy in the mean time!

What I love about this sort of technique of sharing art is that I can basically doodle, paint or draw whatever I want and make it into something useful, practical and shareable! I can't wait to try it out with some of my color work, and some of the sayings that I've painting with watercolors and acrylics. Can't wait to bring some more of my ideas to life as well.

Enjoy guys!

Download your set here.


p.s. if you use them, tag me in your pictures so I can see what fun stuff you're doing! -->     @artisticceleste on IG


3.7.17

July Planner Printables



Welcome to my first set of Calendar tabs and printables! 
I'm so excited about this. It was so fun to make, I loved using my artwork for something useful, and I get to share it with you guys. All things that I love

This was something that I'd had on my mind for a while. While bible journaling and using my planner, I noticed that there are a lot of fellow Christians out there that are making fun calendar and printable stuff. But my frustration came in looking at the specifics of our Catholic faith. I love a lot of what I see out there but I wanted to add in more specifics to the Liturgical calendar, feast days, saints, and the like.

That said, it's my first go at this so I hope you'll be understanding of the imperfections. I am working specifically with Catholic Sistas Day Planner while I'm planning out my tabs and such, so they are specific to the calendar day-square size found within the planner. In the future I'd like to make it more adaptable to other planners to make it work for more people. I have a list of ideas that I'm working on for next months tabs, some small tweaks and size changes. Over time I think that they'll get better and better. And I'm hoping for your input, so bring me your ideas guys and leave me some comments with what you think would be fun to add in for the future! 

Grabs your copies for July at the links below! 


1.7.17

Month of the Most Precious Blood





Download your free desktop and phone background for July, the month of the Most Precious Blood of Jesus. 


30.6.17

Nudgings from the Divine




Many months of pondering, and praying, and after many years of feeling nudged to do something have lead up to a moment...The moment that I finally give in and say "Yes" to the nudge that has been at me for years to do something. I've always used my talents. I've used them in the moments and in the ways that seemed to fit at the time. I've always been pretty generic about it though, but the nudge to use my talent in some faith-inspired way has continued on for years now. The struggle to actually do it...that is where I got caught up in this thing.

What is that thing? Judgement. Being judged. Being different. Doing something that is so specific that maybe no one will even want it, and then...then what? There has been fear. Fears that no one will care what I'm doing, and it'll all tank.

I had to get to this point in my faith journey where it was me saying to myself, "You have to do something one way or another. You can't live this fractured existence."

So I'm going to do something about it, friends. I'm going to embrace the nudging, which I can only guess is the Holy Spirit, to do what I feel I'm being called to. I know I'm called to create. And now I'm going to create for Him. There will be a hint of faith-inspiration, likely, in everything that you see from here on out. Because I can't get away from it. It inspires me. My hope is that, my friends who are of no faith, or a different faith will still be able to find some beauty and value in what I do. I hope you'll find use for what ever I may share to further your own journey.


 

8.6.17

Relaxing into Summer



The Summer arrived with a flourish! As in, the kids all dramatically dumped their backpacks inside the front door and I ordered a pizza, sat myself in a chair and blew my bangs out of my face. We'd survived, on so many levels, one heck of an amazing school year. It never ceases to amaze me how much you can really handle once you have a chance to sit back for a second and look at things from a different perspective.

Several things came into play during these last few months of school that had me on edge quite a bit. For example, we were facing having to move as our landlord has been planning to sell and move to Hawaii. That set my mind into a tail-spin of sorts. The market here locally is a nightmare. We faced both the rental and buyers markets with hope that the perfect place would come along if we just crossed our fingers and toes, put the word out and hoped for the best. No such luck in that department. But God works in mysterious ways and all we had to do was be patient. (Gosh was that hard.) Though our house is half packed in the expectation of having to leave, God put a little twist in to things and we're now sitting in the half packed house that is now our own! Talk about an unexpected turn of events. You should have seen the kids faces when I told them that unfortunately things were not going to change much, that they'd still have to share a room and put up with tight quarters (they really don't mind so much), because we don't ever have to move from here if we don't want to. The shouts of joy and relief at not having to change schools and leave friends was worth all the anxiety and stress that I've been trying to hide from them these last months.

Breath in, breath out. Relax. Hang the curtains. I can decide where I want things to be with permanence. It's a lovely feeling of being grounded. And now it opens a new door for me to settle into some things that have been ruminating in my mind for months.

I'm glad to be here.

24.3.17

Feeling Vulnerable, 3 Years Later





Three years ago I wrote about an experience that I had one day when my youngest daughter was but a wee babe. As mommy to a new baby, and a new baby diagnosed with Down syndrome, I was thrust into a new world that I previously hadn't known. Aside from dealing with getting to know a new baby, any new mom will tell you it can be a stressful time postpartum. It's been a wonderful world, but one that you aren't given a road map for so it took some time for me to adjust and find my footing a bit. I was learning about a new person, learning about what Down syndrome was and how it affected her as an individual, and what this meant for me as her mom.

Looking back I struggled in a way that was a bit different from other parents, perhaps, in that I wasn't heartbroken or distraught over her diagnoses. I loved her. She was adorable, and squishy, and this tiny little thing that fit in the crook of my arm. I loved her with a passion, but was unsure how to express that in a way that other people could understand because when they looked at her they saw Down syndrome first. For me, I saw "baby" first, and Down syndrome was just like a complimentary Sundae after dinner. A perk. I didn't have the vocabulary at the time to express it. I had to grow into this new person that I am and find my voice for her. And in those early days, my way of coping was avoidance of public for a bit until I was comfortable in this new space and more confidant.

So here we are three years later, and I can tell you with confidence that I'd have some different responses to how people react to my daughter when they express anything other than delight in her. She is absolute sunshine. Most of the time. We are experiencing the typical terrible-two's/three-nager stage, so some of her behavior is pretty typical for her age. Even more delightful! I crack up, inside, every time she throws herself on the floor for a tantrum.

Most of the time people are delighted by her. She says hi to everyone. She laughs heartily.  Sometimes at church, she'll escape me and go running up the middle aisle in the middle of a packed house. At first I was a little embarrassed that she was causing a ruckus. But as time has gone by, I've let go of that expectation for adhering to typical rules. She's small for her age, so more often than not it is assumed that she is about half her age, rather than 3 yrs old. No one seems to mind, especially when they hear her belly laugh as I chase her down, as she yells "Hi!" and waves with all her might to the priest in the middle of his homily. I might get some hate over the fact that I actually have really enjoyed the extended baby-dom. Isn't it what we mom's lament over, that baby's don't keep? We've been blessed with an extension of it to some degree, and it's been nothing but lovely. Don't get me wrong, I love to see her accomplish new things and to hear her speech develop. But the extended length of time that it's taken has been nothing but delightful, and makes the goals reached that much more sweet to celebrate.

 Some of the struggle for me now comes not from strangers that I may encounter for a few moments, but when I go through needing to discuss the details of my children with other people, like behavioral issues, or needs they might have that typical children may not have. This can be a little harder than the chance encounters. I like to be respectful, but there are those times when it's easiest to dismiss a chance encounter. There is a sort of internal struggle that goes on with deeper conversation, say like with medical professionals that you would expect to know more. On the one hand, we need for the supports to be in place to help them succeed and so we have to talk about the struggles. And on the other hand this can be so incredibly difficult because we also want to share how wonderful and what a blessing our child is to our family and community at large. We need the struggles acknowledged but not to be the focal point of who our children are. I admit that the struggle is more pronounced at times because of the societal stigmas and misunderstandings that still abound from outdated information. But what I've learned from that perspective of a society still catching up is much like what I had to learn as a new parent.
  • Education and respect are essential. 
  • Sensitivity is greatly appreciated.
  • Acknowledging your own ignorance without being offended and being open to new information is good. It doesn't mean you are dumb because you don't know something. It's called being humble. 
  • Educating with love and respect is my goal. I don't want to make anyone feel dumb with the manner in which I share information as a parent.

There are definitely still times when I struggle because someone said something insensitive out of ignorance, but I don't take it so much as a personal affront to myself or my daughter. If anything, it says something about the other person.


Much love friends.

11.3.17

In The Midst of Lent


Here we are in the midst of Lent and the days pass, and the mundane carries on. Yet, I'm feeling drawn to something more. Did you choose things to work on during this season of Lent? I wanted to work on my blog a bit, and refresh and renew it. Alas, there isn't much that I can share in the way of exciting and new. All those things of the day-to-day pull at my apron strings, begging for my attention. It seems that no matter what my desire to inspire might be, the toll of this time right now draws me to all the things that are not what I'd like to be doing. The soldiering on, the tackling of the task list, the bringing up of little demanding souls, the paper work of life. 

Mother Teresa often talks of doing small things with great love. I try. I try hard. Sometimes I find myself with a preference to live in Instagram-World, where everything is beautiful and lovely all the time, but that's not really the truth. I have to remind myself of that often. Everything perfectly curated takes its toll on hearts as well.  Truth is more relatable when it comes with a little dust and grime, don't you think? There are some beautiful women that I've been following on Instagram and Facebook, who I've become friends with through their joys and struggles. The authenticity of how we share with one another is how we'll get through our life successfully, don't you think? When we're open to sharing that darkside of this beautiful life, in all it's dust, in all the dirty dishes, and the laundry that sits unfolded, and in the struggle to parent without losing our marbles completely. Doing the small things with love....The folding of the laundry and piling it on the ends of beds so that the clothes are there to be worn when the weary, sleepy eyes open in the morning demanding our attention to yet a new day of growth. Will we ever get it perfectly right? It's a journey that we have to keep training for. Let's uphold one another. 

My goal for Lent might seem silly to you. I have a few. Or had a few. I'm a work in progress, so the tasks I chose are as well. Goal #1 was to keep the dining room table cleared off so that we could eat together more easily. The struggle is real, folks. I don't have a desk/office/work space, so my work sits on the table in organized piles. It would require shopping for organizing items to remove it from the table, which would mean shopping (which I loath) and spending money which I don't have on something that ultimately seemed to come down to an insurmountable mountain. I know that that is a lie, and that it really is something that I can still accomplish. I just need to be more creative about it. At least the lego's are no longer acting as a centerpiece, so we've made progress!

The other task I chose is much more intense and personal. And even though I've worked at it, it is sitting quietly waiting for my attention. This is hugely personal, my friends. My second goal was to put aside my embarrassment and hurt and try to accomplish healing through completing the tasks for my Annulment. The Catholic Church requires much reflection and explanation of very deep and personal information. I know now why some choose to avoid it, or skip it altogether. It is a huge process of gathering the messiness of your life together in a single place for others to review. Why am I sharing this? I'm not sure really, except that perhaps I can encourage someone else who's struggled with avoidance of this issue to soldier on, and seek healing through the process. I know that once it is complete I can theoretically move on from this place within myself and enjoy the freedom that can come with answers and insight from an outside, and removed-from-the-situation source.

One way or another, I know that this Lent will accomplish much even if it is just pushing me outside of my comfort zones. Growth is good. In the spirit of doing small things with great love, both accomplishing tackling my mountain of paperwork for the enjoyment of eating together as a family, and the completion of Annulment paperwork for renewing a sense of peace and self understanding...well these are acts of love in that they are acts that will bring renewal in one way or another to my family.

Prayers for my readers this Lenten season.

16.1.17

A Month of Menu Plans









Isn't it the way it goes? We get caught up in this and that, and rush out to the store to grab whatever happens to sound good at meal time. I do that sometimes. Towards the end of this past year, I was doing a lot of that. The kids had a lot of things going on, and I was spending the majority of my day driving around. Menu planning wasn't exactly on my radar, nor was I really in the mood to cook much.

I'd like to at least start out with some ideas to keep spending under control. Though it is a bit more work to actually cook something other than a frozen dinner, it can save money and everyone will eat a healthier meal.

Below are about a months worth of menu ideas that I'll be coming back to. Some are kid favorites and some of just good hearty meals.  I like to buy chicken and other meats in bulk when I can to get a more reasonable price. Other items are a staple in the pantry like chicken broth, flour and sugar, and various pasta types.

Perhaps you can take away some ideas for your own menu.


Turkey Meatballs, Rice, Veggie
Bean and Cheese Burritos 
Baked Ziti and Salad
Chicken Enchilada Bake
Risotto with Wild Mushrooms
Baked Chicken, Garlicky Pasta and Carrots
Ranch Chicken, Potato Casserole, Salad
Shepards Pie
Meat Loaf, Rice and Veggie
Balsamic Chicken with Brussels Sprouts, French Bread
Crockpot Beef and Broccoli, Rice
Pancakes and Sausage
Szechuan Chicken Pasta with Veggies
Alfredo with Chicken and Salad
Nachos
Chili and Cornbread
Fried Rice and Pot Stickers
Ham, Cheese, Broccoli and Rice Casserole
Corn Chowder and Biscuits
Sausage and Beans
Sloppy Turkey Joes and Tater Tots, Veggie
Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese 
French Bread Pizza
Chicken Parmesan and Salad
Black Bean Soup and Quesadillas
Chili Baked Potatoes
Ham and Kale Quiche
Taco Bowls
Chicken Pot Tie
Orange Chicken and Stir Fry Veggies


Now to actually shop and cook! Wish me luck.

14.1.17

Shining in the Dark


 It's been raining cats and dogs, going on more than a week now. As grateful for the rain that we are, everyone I've run into has expressed a desire for a little bit of a break. There has been flooding and mud slides. People are facing disaster. 

The other night I had to run out in the evening for milk. It had stopped raining and I was grateful not to be getting soaked. I rushed in the store, and out again in a hurry. And then it struck me, really struck me, that it had stopped raining. I looked up, and though there were some clouds here and there, I could see the stars shining brightly.  I stopped in the middle of the parking lot and stared at the sky. And then someone else walked close by and looked up as well. 

"Look, they're still there!" the person stated. Indeed, they weren't going anywhere. We'd been walking around with our heads down for a while now, and it was nice to look up. The next morning it was overcast again. 

Isn't it interesting that sometimes, the things that are brightest that we don't appreciate enough, only really get appreciation once it's dark?

13.1.17

Trust





 Trust can be hard. But what if the one you are supposed to trust has proven time and again that he is trust worthy? Then trust becomes easy. 

Once you choose to trust then you can have peace and confidence in the future. 


 Grab your own copy of this quote from Hilary of Poirtiers and make it a prayer to trust. 


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