How I Use My Write The Word Journals
If you missed the news, last week the Cultivate What Matters shop launched their spring faith collection and let me tell you, it’s a really beautiful line of intentional journals. If you know me well, you’ll know I try my best to be purposeful in all I do. So when I made it a goal to begin journalling this year, I knew the new Write The Word journals would be an incredible way to help make that happen. While these new journals are undeniably gorgeous and well made with beautifully colored covers, the different attributes you’re encouraged to cultivate through journalling like faith, renewal, joy, gratitude, and hope, are what make these journals so special.
And I want to share a secret with you before I carry on; I’m not very good at journalling.
I always question if there is a right way to do it and sometimes feel stumped on where to start. What tense do I use? What topics do I share? Do I write lists? Letters? Stories? I’ve started many journals in my lifetime (after all I was a journalism student for six years!) but I can’t ever seem to create a routine or stick with a journal; until now! My hope is this post will outline a few of the ways I’ve started to use my Write The Word journal because I’m slowly starting to see why so many people find journalling to be so relaxing and fulfilling.
I recently read about a grandfather who documented his days spent with his young granddaughter. He would write down simple memories they made together, activities they did, and sometimes just simple thoughts about his role in her life as a grandparent. Everything was jotted down in a spiral bound notebook and eventually he filled up three notebooks worth of sentiments and memories. When his granddaughter grew up (old enough to understand the significance of these notes) he gave her the books as a gift. I had goosebumps reading this simple story and was immediately inspired. This was enough to make me pick up my pen!
Ever since becoming a parent I’ve been very keen on finding ways to capture and preserve the everyday joys, and sometimes even the struggles, in a way that will continue to bring happiness and leave a legacy for our family years from now. But more than memories I want to have tangible things that Lachlan and our other children can reflect on, be inspired by, and hold near and dear to them. I don’t have many tangible things from the generations before me in my family and I want to make that change for the future. So what better of a way then to journal these things and have them written down and dated for future reference.
I have a lot of past journals that have become ‘catch-alls’ for my thoughts so I didn’t want my Write The Word journal to be for that sort of journalling. Instead I wanted my journal to be a place where I write with a plan and purpose even if the things I write or the thoughts I share are far from perfect. One of the details I actually love most about the Write The Word journals is they come with prompts on the pages including, ‘Today…,’ ‘On my heart,’ and ‘I am grateful for…’ Also on each right hand side page is a bible verse which I’ll get to in a second.
Using the prompts to my advantage and using the journalling grandfather as my inspiration, I quickly hatched a plan to use my book in a way that would keep me engaged and fulfilled. The spring launch was pure coincidence!
I decided my journal would become my Letters to Lachlan book. It would be a place where I write out daily adventures and thoughts as much as I feel inspired to write about them, but made a loose rule that I can’t go longer than a week without at least one entry. The long term goal is to fill the book with my tales of motherhood and the relationship I have with my son, so I can both become a stronger writer but also work on creating something special to share with Lachlan one day. As for selecting what journal I picked, I selected the Cultivate Renewal because in this particular season of my life I’m needing to feel replenished.
My letters to Lachlan go on the left hand side under the ‘What’s on your heart’ prompt. On the right hand side I typically jot down the date, fill in what I am grateful for (anything from good health, sunshine, and slow Fridays) and then I use the listed bible verse as an opportunity to improve my knowledge and understanding of scripture, which ironically helps check off another 2017 goal. I usually look up verses, write them out, and then add in my own notes or commentary as I feel necessary.
A few tips that help me stay accountable with my journal efforts are as follows:
• I keep my journal and my favorite pen (I love these and used them in Lachlan’s baby book) on my bedside table OR in a place where I know I will feel inspired to write. I avoid having the journal on my desk or near my laptop because I know I’ll get too distracted around my work and will likely never get around to writing.
• Like I mentioned above, I picked the journal that best resonated with the current season I’m in. After coming out of a 9 week sickness (6 of which were spent battling an awful liver infection), and a really long and dark winter, I’m open to any and all of the renewal I can get! Just seeing the word ‘renewal’ on my journal makes me feel eager to write as is the act of writing alone will leave me feeling replenished. I highly recommend picking a journal that speaks to you versus picking a journal over say, your color of choice.
• I gifted three of my friends (Betsi and Jess on my team, and Sam who took these photos!) with their own journals. Knowing I can talk with other girlfriends and women with similar interests about their journaling efforts inspires me to keep up my own writing. But beyond those women’s efforts, I have to be honest and admit that knowing one day I get to hand this journal to my son is enough to make me pick up my pen and just write.
• I’ve paid close attention to my daily routine and when I feel the most centered to write without feeling rushed or distracted. For me this is at night, after I have showered, when Lachlan is asleep, and I have no work distractions in front of me. The bonus is I can be comfortable in my pajamas in my bed, and feel like all of my thoughts are out and on paper before I go to sleep. I have to use my phone to look up scripture as needed but if I do that part first and then put my phone away before I journal my next letter, I find the process is fulfilling.
I’ve also been known to openly express my love for our Nespresso machine so sometimes I like to journal when Lachlan naps so I can use that time to also enjoy a mid day latte. Knowing I get to enjoy a homemade treat and take a quiet moment to reflect during the days Lachlan is home with me is really good for my heart. If you too would like to invest in a Write the Word journal be sure to check out the Cultivate What Matters shop.
Now tell me! Do you have a journal? What sort of routine works for you? Xo
All photos by Samantha James Photography
Megan + Graham
I always say I get to work with the kindest clients and I would imagine many wedding vendors say the same.
But such is undeniably true with Megan and Graham. I knew immediately from the second I heard Megan’s voice during our first phone consultation that we would grow in a friendship well beyond her celebration. Her colorful and gentle personality, wit and intelligence, and complete admiration for Graham and their marriage together, inspired me daily throughout our planning process. Our phone calls each morning while Meg commuted to work became highlights, and our meetings always a complete adventure. As you might imagine, this couple would go on to provide me with one of the most pleasurable planning experiences of my career, and more so would delight and charm every single person who had a hand in making this celebration possible.
On August 29th, 2016 Megan and Graham finally became husband and wife in the quiet small town of Saugatuck, Michigan. Their celebration unfolded at the Saugatuck Center for the Arts which is in the town where Megan attended summer camp as a little girl. With a small and intimate party of 90 people, an elegant wedding design of gold, champagne, and gray, and endless delicacies for guests to enjoy, this was truly a magical day with a very gracious guestlist. While the morning started out with awful monsoon type rains, we ended up with a beautiful sunny Michigan day almost as bright and warm as the couple themselves.
Megan and Graham, we do what we do so people like you two can start a marriage with joy and excitement. Thank you for hiring and trusting me as your planner even when our second call together was so I could tell you I was eight weeks pregnant. Thank you for your gentleness, sense of humor, and ability to bring light to every meeting and situation even in the tricky ones. You are loved by many and always treasured.
Kelly Sweet Photography captured the day perfectly. Please scroll down for more details and vendor details!
You can also catch this wedding on Carats & Cake which is one of our favorite online wedding sources.
The photo below is one of my favorite first look moments ever captured. Megan’s joy!
The trio of cakes was one of my favorite cake vignettes to date.
The Cakabakery created three delicious cakes with a simple buttercream finish and then adorned each with a few loose blooms to tie in with the other floral elements used throughout the day. The cakes sat on matte gold stands on a table covered in a champagne sequin linen. The best part was the green laurel detailing surrounding the laser cut monogram topper. The couple’s monogram which was used throughout the stationery products had a laurel type illustration to it but we thought it would be an unexpected touch to actually make that detail out of real greens for the topper. Since Megan wanted to avoid greens throughout all of her arrangements this was the one place where we were free to incorporate any foliage and I think it turned out perfectly.
A single blush rose was tied with a gray double faced satin bow and placed at each placesetting.
This photo below shows the underbelly of the center’s outdoor space and what we were working with from the start of planning. The SCA is primarily an arts space with a unique outdoor space for events and farmer’s markets during the summer so the aesthetic of the venue isn’t so much a priority for weddings. My first reaction when we walked through the space the summer before the wedding was that this was not a space appropriate for a formal, elegant summer wedding. Those red beams (which are from the building’s original use as a pie factory!) are very intrusive and noticeable from every angle; you can imagine my reaction when I first saw them!
However, thanks to the team at The Rental Company we were able to cover them in a way that complimented the space but still allowed some of the history of the building to shine through. The cocoa, ivory, and champagne drapes hung everywhere creating a really intimate and airy feel to the otherwise industrial space. Then we had huge chandeliers from Event Theory hung over the dining tables to create a romantic glow once the sun started to set over the lake. The venue was completely transformed for Megan and Graham and showing them the finished product is a memory I will have forever.
Congratulations Megan and Graham! We love you.
. . . . . . . . . .
Planning, design, floral: Rhiannon Bosse / Photography: Kelly Sweet Photography / Ceremony and reception locations: The Saugatuck Center for The Arts / Draping and event rentals: The Rental Company / Event Rentals: Event Theory / Linens: La Tavola / Bride’s gown: Monique Lhullier / Bridesmaid gowns: Rent the Runway / Bride’s shoes: Jimmy Choo / Desserts and cakes: The Cakabakery / Beauty: Hanna Wagner Design / Entertainment and videography: 27 Entertainment / Catering and drinks: The Farmhouse Deli & Pantry / Stationery: Smitten On Paper / Calligraphy: Prairie Letter Shop / Laser cut goods: Endash
How Motherhood Changed Me
Becoming a parent is an interesting and exhilarating experience isn’t it?
I’m a big believer that sometimes God gives us the things we need even when we don’t think we need them. And becoming a mama to my sweet Lachlan was one of those precious wants I firmly believe was a need God felt he had to fulfill in my life. I was intelligent enough to know I’d be eternally grateful for the chance to be a parent but now that we are here and I’m IN it, man am I ever full of the kind of gratitude that brings you to your knees.
They say there are moments in life that really define us, and I remember the moment they placed Lachlan next to my cheek on the operating table, how whole I finally felt. How truly defined I was about to be even in a very messy and heightened state. And how right then it was as if I had hurdled over some imaginary line. On one side of the line was old Rhi. And on the other was new Rhi. There was no going back. And now, 15 months later and out of that emotionally charged and sleep deprived state that comes hand in hand with those first few weeks (or months if you’re like me and adjusting took much longer), I see such clarity in how I felt in that moment as I was wheeled away to my new reality. I’ve never been so sure of anything except that sense of change I entered into that day; even if it wasn’t welcomed with open arms as this season unfolded.
Some thoughts on how motherhood has changed me in no particular order:
• Motherhood has turned me into an unapologetic woman and this has been both terrifying and freeing all at once.
• The way time stands still in some moments but flies by in others makes it abundantly clear that our time here on earth is short –if you let it be. So I’ve fought the good fight and done my best to avoid talking about how big my baby is getting and to avoid the crying eyes emojis because I refuse to give power to the very inevitable reality that yes, time is ticking. As my friend Emily said once (massively paraphrasing here), ‘We aren’t given the gift of parenthood to keep our babies little forever but we are given the role of being their parent so we can raise them into compassionate, strong, and life-giving members of society’. So I hold my baby close while he will let me and I embrace the little changes that I notice in the every day monotony which may possibly mean those snuggles happen less and less. Motherhood has changed my perception of time so that I hustle a little faster when I need to over there but slow down to a halt when I need to over here.
• My desire and thirst for a more prayerful life and a deeper connection to something bigger than ‘this’ has stirred and turned into something that has been playing out in my daily life but in a way I can’t and don’t quite want to put in words. Leaving a legacy for my family has such weight now that my ‘family’ has a face. Further, determining what that ‘legacy’ means for me and us is really thrilling because I’m starting from scratch and will serve as the first generation in my family to pass down as many things, moments, and virtues of value to my child(ren). Thinking intentionally about the decisions I make, the things I share when people are watching, and the things I do when no one is watching, and how they tie into the bigger picture has been such a different process as a mother. This change has helped me fall asleep more satisfied and wake up more content.
• I’ve always said there is such value in marrying the kind one. When I met my husband at 19 as a sophomore in college I wasn’t immediately attracted to him because he was too tall (silly), very American (I’m Canadian and at 19 there were many differences between the Canadian and American boys), and just plain old nice. Turns out within a couple months that niceness would be the very thing I fell in love with and would be the foundation for a relationship that constantly keeps me grounded and grateful. Niceness translates to patience, selflessness, and commitment. And those virtues have poured out by the bucketful from my kind husband into the everyday interactions with our son. In turn I’ve been inspired and I’ve learned the value in being an example to my son of what it means to love others well; especially the ones right in front of you.
• This feels so trivial but my long hair used to define me and I’m grateful that’s changed. My hair provided security and was my way of internally saying, ‘Hey! If all else changes postpartum and goes completely in the opposite direction of my expectations (like my pant size and more wrinkled face), that’s cool because this long, youthful hair is exactly as it was before I became a mom and had my life flipped upside down!’ For me, my hair symbolically was a way of keeping one foot in the door of my past life and one foot (er, whole body) in the other door of being in a new season full of well, newness. It’s comforting for a while but eventually standing with your feet in two different doors is exhausting. So I colored my hair recently, cut off a ton of it (not shown in this post), and I walked out of that salon feeling really beautiful and smiling to myself because I now understand why so many women cut their hair off once they have children.
• I fight for joy because looking back on a lifetime of regret terrifies me. So motherhood turned me into a fighter. I fight for joy when I’m tired, testy about situations and quick to place blame on others, pulled in too many directions, missing my son while I work, missing my work while I’m with my son, wondering how in the world people live life with more children, or wondering when I will ever be OK leaving my son for longer than a few days because mama.needs.a.vacation. I find joy climbing in the crib with my son. I find joy in picking him up from school and literally rolling on the carpet with him while the other babies watch in bewilderment. I find joy in having a messy living room with unfluffed pillows because for 8 months post partum I tried my best to fluff those damn things everyday and lost terribly. I fight for joy because it’s everlasting and bigger than me.
• Motherhood has made me softer. When I didn’t think (and certainly didn’t want to think) I could get any softer. And I mean this figuratively and literally (unfortunately for me and my bathing suits).
• My mothering style, decisions, and me in that specific role, does not need to be approved or praised by others. This is a new way motherhood has changed me but it’s lifted the biggest weight off my shoulders and I hope it’s the one gift I can give to other mothers. I know without a doubt I’m a wonderful mother and that’s the end of that. I think the need to be validated in how GOOD we are at mothering or how selfless we are, leaves us feeling really empty because you’ll never please everyone. You will always be criticized, questioned, judged or laughed at by someone if you’re constantly in the pursuit of trying to do it right by other’s standards. So while my heart has grown softer, I’ve tried to let my skin get thicker. And I do as I do and let that be that.
. . .
We had our friend Kelly come over when Lachlan had just turned one to take some photos in our home. I’m just so happy we continually chose to document these moments in our life. I washed my hair that day for the photos while Lachlan napped and thought it was such stark comparison to the photo session from almost a year prior when I had cried into my curling iron half hour before Kelly came over. Lachlan was just three weeks old and nothing fit me my changed body, my hair was falling out, and my baby was crying really loudly making the pressure to tidy up and look presentable feel so heavy. But like I said these things break you wide open and build you up again. For that I am grateful and my palms are up ready for what’s next.
Welcome to our family. Xoxo
Easter Basket Ideas for Toddlers
One of my favorite things about being a mama is the sense of excitement that comes hand in hand with holidays. While I’m fully aware of the commercialization around these events, I remain unapologetic about how much fun it’s been to both start new traditions and celebrate the holidays in different ways as a family. So when The Baby Cubby reached out earlier this year about a partnership together, I jumped at the chance to combine my love of celebrating holidays and passion for motherhood with their awesome and extensive inventory.
The result? These fun ideas for toddler Easter baskets photographed beautifully by my colleague, friend, and fellow mother, Sam. While we made sure to pick out products we felt our individual kids would love and be drawn to, we made intentional choices with products that will go the distance and get lots of use in both of our homes like the hedgehog backpack and books for E and sweatpants and WubbaNub pacifier for L.
And of course, no Easter basket is complete without a little chocolate so I added in those sweet Lindt chocolate chicks. Read more below on the products I picked and catch links to where you can get the same ones too.
I also need to add Lachlan and Emery’s baskets were both found at Target but you can find adorable basket options at any craft or grocery store this time of the year. I happened to be at Target the day they rolled out their 2017 Easter product so I scooped up a bright blue hued ‘L’ liner and white wicker basket before they were all gone. My hope is I will be able to use this very deep and wide basket for many Easters to come or at least until my dude thinks the Easter bunny is a silly/weird concept (which I hope doesn’t happen too soon!)
And a bit more on what is in Lachlan’s basket along with some reasoning behind my choices:
Lachlan will be 15 months the day after Easter so he’s currently in a curious-toddler phase where everything needs to be fully explored, touched, picked up, or pulled over. He’s also starting to pay attention to things in a more intentional way like actually listening when I read him stories, reacting to the things I say, and playing with his toys in new ways instead of just tossing things around aimlessly. This stage is very busy but very fun!
Beyond toys and books, we’re also in a transition with clothing where his onesies are becoming far too small for him and we’re having to try out ‘little boy’ clothes like jeans, t-shirts, hoodies, and actual shoes (as opposed to our onesies, leggings and socks uniform which I’ll admit has been an easy outfit choice for this Midwest mama on the go). With all of that being said and keeping in mind I’m an advocate for useful items over more cute toys that just won’t get used, I picked the following items for his basket:
Little Unicorn Cotton Security Blankets
If you remember Lachlan’s first birthday party you’ll know these little security blankets are just perfect. While we don’t put blankets or pillows in his crib, I do love how light weight these blankets are and feel like they will be easy to throw in my bag when we go on our next few family trips, which we have many coming up.
WubbaNub Pacifier Lovey Little Lamb
Last summer when Lachlan was around 6 months old he became a thumb sucker and refused to take a pacifier. So we tossed all his pacifiers and hoped he’d eventually kick the thumb sucking habit before it became ‘a thing’. One day while I was picking him up from school, his teachers mentioned him not using the WubbaNub I had brought in with his personal belongings and told me I could take it home with me if I wanted. I threw it in the back seat and thought nothing of it for a few weeks. Until I went to grab him out of the back when we got home one day and he had the silly thing in his mouth! Ever since that day he’s been attached to his WubbaNub (and forgot about his thumb!) and goes everywhere with it. We have one at school, one at home, and this new lamb one as a backup, and while it’s not a habit I hope he has forever, it’s a sweet favorite of his for now.
Lulu and Roo Dark Grey Striped Sweatpants
The sweetest sweatpants ever. We’re big ‘soft clothes’ advocates over here and these fit the bill!
Lucy Darling All Aboard New York: A City Primer
Growing up I always imagined myself living in New York City. While I’ve only been to the Big Apple a handful of times, I always thoroughly enjoy my time in the city and feel so invigorated by the hustle and bustle. I hope Lachlan will inherit my love for travel, adventure, and big cities, and feel like this book will be a fun one to add to our night time favorites. Bonus: The Lucy Darling brand has other destination books like Paris and California.
Piper Finn Toddler Shoes Nautical Stripes
I love the gender neutral stripes and the laces in lieu of velcro or pull ons.
Tubby Todd Dream Cream, Shea Butter and Mint
I’ve never been one to use lotion and always hesitate using any on Lachlan because I would hate for him to feel greasy or sticky afterwards (like I always do when I lotion up) but with the colder temperatures in Michigan I sure notice a difference in the way our skin feels and looks without hydration. While I haven’t used this lotion yet, the incredible reviews compelled me to purchase it and so far I love the scent combo of the shea butter and mint. I’ll be sure to report back once I use this because I’d love to help others find a lotion they love.
As for E’s basket, you can check more on the goodies in her basket via Sam’s blog post!
I’m so grateful for The Baby Cubby team for allowing Sam and I to be a part of this sponsored partnership. While everything shown with the exception of the baskets was provided by The Baby Cubby, the product choices we made, and words expressed here are that of our own. Beyond toddler items, The Baby Cubby also carries maternity, newborn, baby, and children’s items making it a one stop shop for mamas everywhere.
Tell me, if your family celebrates Easter with baskets what sorts of items do you fill yours with?
A Valentine’s Day Cupcake Recipe
Once upon a time, exactly eight years ago this weekend to be exact, this very blog you’re reading was devoted entirely to baking. My fresh out of college, 22 year old self had aspirations of being a television reporter intertwined with big dreams to run my own bakery; imagine THAT career path! I had all sorts of things I wanted to achieve and the majority of them at the time revolved around sugary goodness. How things can change in the span of a year let alone eight is both fascinating and humbling. Eight years have felt like a lifetime!
Yet I have to laugh at my past baking dreams because in all honesty I’m actually not the best baker. And Andrew does 95% of the cooking in our home because he’s really good at it. While I’m fairly confident I’m now making better use of my gifts as an event planner and floral designer, I do have a handy little recipe in my back pocket for fail-proof and delicious cupcakes. The highlights about this recipe include it’s easy, interchangeable with whatever box mix you love most, makes a two dozen plus batch of cupcakes, and best of all, incredibly yummy.
Enjoy these beautiful (and fun!) photos by my friend, Sam just in time for Valentine’s Day!
The canvas in the photos is one I painted myself. As a creative person I find a lot of pleasure in painting and had fun creating this bright and fun piece for the project. I’m thinking it will be a sweet gift for my niece who will be turning 7 this spring (but also secretly figuring out how to turn that print into wrapping paper).
Fuss-free Chocolate Cupcake Recipe
FOR THE CUPCAKES
1 box of devil’s food cake mix
1 small package of chocolate instant pudding
4 eggs at room temperature
1 cup sour cream at room temperature
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup warm water
1 1/2 cups bittersweet chocolate chips or chopped baking squares
FOR THE FROSTING
1 tub of regular Cool Whip
6 ounces of white chocolate baking squares
Combine all of dry ingredients, minus the chocolate chips, in a big bowl and stir to combine. Add in your wet ingredients with the exception of the sour cream, one by one, beating with a hand mixer on medium speed until combined. Fold in the sour cream until combined well, followed by combining in the chocolate chips. In a prelined cupcake pan, fill your liners a little more than halfway with spoonfuls of the batter. The more you put in your liners the more the cupcakes will rise; and be aware these cupcakes can get pretty big and fluffy. For the cupcakes in the photos we filled the liners up a tiny bit under halfway so you can get a feel for how they bake. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes or until the tops spring back when lightly touched.
To make your frosting, completely melt your chocolate baking squares in a glass bowl either in the microwave, stirring every 20 seconds OR in a double broiler over the stove. Once the chocolate is completely melted, fold in the entire tub of Cool Whip and mix until a ganache-like texture is achieved. The white chocolate doesn’t seem to create the same texture as dark chocolate does (when you use bittersweet chocolate baking squares) so if you love chocolate and want a really exceptionally smooth and delicious frosting you can try that route instead. We took the white chocolate route to make the cupcakes a bit more visually appealing in the photos.
Be sure to let your cupcakes cool completely before frosting. Top with a raspberry or whatever else you’d like!
Happy Valentines Day weekend, everyone! I hope it’s filled with such love. Xoxo