Current Crush: Art

I first heard about a couple of years ago when I ordered Christmas cards from there (see our cards from 2013 and 2012). It is one of my favorite stationery and custom card sites; all of their designs are modern, lovely and affordable.

In the last couple of years they have expanded from a card company to an art shop. Art can really transform a room, and I love browsing for beautiful new pieces and dreaming up where I would put them in my home. I somehow got on their mailing list and received their catalog last week, and found myself reading it like it was a magazine. (Does that mean I’m getting older, or are marketers just getting smarter?) Catalog Catalog Catalog Catalog

Here are some pretty pieces I am eyeing….Nice Work by Heather Francisco

Nice Work by Heather Francisco — This is a great print for an office, and comes in five different colors. Maybe it needs to go on my bookcase at work?

Rusty Patina by Artsy Canvas Girl Designs

Rusty Patina by Artsy Canvas Girl Designs — Prettiest colors. I wonder if I could paint something like this….

Seaside by Alexandra Nazari

Seaside by Alexandra Nazari — I have seen a lot of large ocean and beach prints across Pinterest and blogs. They are so calming and happy. I could see this one blown up and hung above a linen couch.

Big Sur by Lindsay Megahed

Big Sur by Lindsay Megahed — Another beachy print. I am a little obsessed with the brush strokes for the waves.

Peonies in Vase by Kelli Hall

Peonies in Vase by Kelli Hall — I think this one would look gorgeous in my master bedroom!

Three Oaks Barn by LeeAnn Dougherty

Three Oaks Barn by LeeAnn Dougherty — I love rustic, country barns. I could see this blown up and hung above a guest bed, or a nice addition to a gallery wall.

Which one is your favorite?
Do you have a favorite site to browse new art?  

PS – See more art that I am eyeing on my art + prints Pinterest board.

FYI this post contains affiliate links, which means if you click and purchase I will receive a small commission. Thank you for reading and supporting My Pretty Pennies!

On Contentment

I took an unintentional week off of blogging, due to a terrible, no good, really bad week. We have been dealing with a few health issues, broken computers, broken air conditioning [the upstairs thermostat read 90-degrees one night], and overall crummy circumstances.

In the middle of the week, as I was running late for work and bathing Leia because she happen to roll in poop that morning (oh yeah, that happened too), I started to think about Paul and his little secrets.

I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. – Philippians 4:12

Uhhhh… HOW Paul?!? How in the world do you remain content when you are in want? When you are hungry? My body is naturally always unhappy when I am hungry because it needs sustenance. How can your circumstances really not effect your content-ness?

He answers it in the next verse:

I can do all things through him who gives me strength. – Philippians 4:13

Ah. Well there is the most over-used and inappropriately misinterpreted verse in the Bible.

Sometimes when I’ve heard a verse so many times, it loses its power. I can do all things through him who gives me strength. Yeah, yeah. He can help me. I pray a “get me out of this mess” prayer and ask for that supernatural strength to change my circumstances.

But last week, I stopped and thought about what it would look like to practice contentment when your circumstances don’t change and are still very much annoying.

Through him who gives me strength. 

The one who gives us strength is the Holy Spirit, and there are two major things that the Holy Spirit does:

1. Points you to the cross.
2. Enables you to love others.

When Jesus summarized the law into two statements — love God and love others — it wasn’t just a way to justify, it is the only way to set us free. The more I focus on the cross and what it represents, the less important my cares seem. It reminded me of the lines of this old hymn:

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.

And the more I look around at the needs of others, the more petty my problems seem.

As some of you may remember, my best friend’s baby died earlier this year. He would have been six months this past Saturday, and oh how I wish I could see what he looks like at six months! To honor his life, his beautiful parents encouraged people to participate in doing random acts of kindness on the 23rd of each month. My “bad week” seemed so insignificant in light of Owen’s life and death, and it was pure joy to find ways to spread love and kindness in his honor. I was moved to tears seeing all of the ways people celebrated his life.

Love God, and love others. That’s the secret of contentment.

Letter to Myself

Letter to Myself - Five things I want to focus on during this season in my life.

Dear Self,

I thought about writing a letter to your younger self, but she has already lived those days so what’s the point of going back? Life is too short for regrets and today is too important to worry about the future, so let’s focus on this present day. These beautiful, golden days that you wake up to every single morning.

Here are five things I want you to focus on during this season of your life:

1. Enjoy this free time. I am not even going to pretend like your life is busy because it’s not. You have a lot of free time. Continue to fill up your free time with J. He is really funny and makes you happy. Go on trips together and get to know your city. It’s a pretty place. Try new things and learn as much as you can. Don’t bother spending time doing things you don’t enjoy — you don’t have that much time. Figure out what makes you come alive and spend your time celebrating that.

2. Invest in girlfriends. You have some pretty awesome friends. Keep them, and keep making them a priority. Text them when they pop into your mind and have them over when your house is really messy. I have a feeling these relationships are going to be pretty important in the years to come. Don’t be afraid to make new friends, either. Kindred spirits are just a hello away.

3. Make church a priority. Do you remember how long it took you to find this church? And do you remember all of the mediocre ones you went to before? This one is a gem, and you are so lucky. Continue to attend and sing and soak in the wisdom. Smile at the people in the hallway, because attending a new church is scary. And say yes when you are asked to help in the nursery. Those kids may be your babysitters one day.

4. Improve your inner beauty. Stop looking at yourself in the mirror so much. Continue to make healthy choices, because it makes you feel good, but don’t be consumed with it. Attraction is 90% personality and 10% looks, so focus on making your personality beautiful. Be kind and wise and helpful. Speak up against injustices and fight for what you believe in. Listen more than you speak, and when you feel like giving others advice, give them a hug instead.

5. Don’t worry about the future. Do you remember years ago when you were worried about college and grades? God provided and you went to a great school. Do you remember crying ugly tears, worried you would remain single forever? God provided and you get to do life with a great guy. Do you remember when you were worried about moving to DC? God provided and you met some great friends and started a wonderful career. Do you remember when you were worried about money after paying for a wedding and replacing both cars in the first two months of marriage? God provided and you were able to save enough to buy a house in the next two years. Whatever you are worried about, just stop. God is going to provide.

The days are long but the years are short, and being content with today is hard. One day you are going to be so nostalgic for this time in your life, so try your very best to savor every single moment of it while you are in it.

I’m not sure how to end a letter to yourself, so we will just leave it at that.

- Ginna

PS – Photo above from Death to the Stock Photo

6 Lessons from the Whole30 Challenge

Welp, I’m done with the Whole30 challenge. (Or rather Whole25, since I didn’t make it to the bitter end due to a trip I really wanted to enjoy. If you’re a strict Whole30 follower, give me grace. 25 days > 0 days.)

For those who aren’t familiar with Whole30, the basic gist is to eat real, whole foods. Nothing packaged or processed, which excludes all dairy, alcohol, grains and legumes. You can eat meat, vegetables, fruit, nuts, oils and herbs. It’s basically a paleo diet, except without any paleo-like treats or snacks (so no honey or syrup). The point of the diet is to eat food that makes you healthy. Eat for fuel, not for fun. Read more about the challenge on the Whole30 site.

I had four objectives for starting this challenge. Let’s see where we are today:

  • Prove to myself that I can. I did it!!!!!!!! (Well, again, just 25 days. I knew going into it I would be cutting it short.) I honestly didn’t think I would be able to do it, especially in the early days when my body was weening off my serious sugar addiction. At one point J compared this to my marathon training — something miserable I willingly put upon myself. Looking back I don’t think it was that bad, but I say that now as a girl who can eat cheese again, so maybe my mind has blocked out the memory of those hard days.
  • Heal my stomach from digestive problems. I am disappointed because unfortunately this hasn’t been completely healed. I feel good, but not 100% perfect. It must take more than 25 days to completely heal of digestive issues.
  • Improve my sleep. YES!!! I kept a journal the whole time on what I ate and how I felt, and of the 25 days, I slept great 20 nights. Which for me is amazing.
  • Weight loss. The folks at Whole30 discourage you from weighing yourself, but I did anyways (I’m such a rebel). But I understand why they discourage it: your body fluctuates in weight so much throughout the day, and this really isn’t about weight loss but more of a lifestyle. That said, I did lose four pounds in three in three and a half weeks. Not too shabby!

Lessons from the Whole30 Challenge

Lessons from the Whole30 Challenge:

Lesson #1: Your body may be willing, but your mind is CRAZY.

Literally crazy, my friends. I have never given up sugar before and had no idea the mental energy and stamina it requires to say no to something so near and dear. People compare the physical process giving up the addiction to sugar as painful as giving up cigarettes or alcohol. I was so tired and haggard the first few days, and I think most of the exhaustion was the mental energy it takes to say no to something you love. It was a test in the first few days to see whether I was really committed, and I literally had to take away the option of cheating out of my mind. I was in it for the duration, no cheating and no exceptions.

Lesson #2: Black coffee is an acquired taste. 

You can have coffee on this diet… but that’s about it. No cream, sugar, artificial sugar/cream, or packaged almond milk. They discourage a lot of caffeine, so I decided to make my morning cup of joe with half decaf, half caffeine. The first day — YUCK! GROSS! NO. I finished about a fourth of it and pour the rest out. The second day, same thing. Third day, I finished about half. By day ten I finished my cup of coffee and had an epiphany that I finished the whole thing and didn’t wince during any of it. Breakthrough! And today, I can proudly take my coffee black. Boom.

Lesson #3: Our life does not fit around standard one-week meal plans. 

Maybe your household is different, but I have learned we can’t follow one-week meal plans exactly. It’s way too much food for the two of us, and cooking an entirely new recipe every single night after I get home from working a full day is exhausting. We gotta have leftovers some week nights.

I used the book Practically Paleo as my guide for the diet, since all of the recipes except for the desserts were Whole30-approved. The book has really nice 30-day meal plans, so I decided I would follow the meal plans and make whatever it assigned for each meal. I downloaded the first week grocery list, brought it with me to Trader Joe’s and bought everything I didn’t have on the list. $100 later, I brought home an entire week of breakfast, lunch and dinner items. We used half of all I bought in that week. Maybe less. (FYI: I highly recommend reading Practically Paleo if you’re curious about this eating plan or if you suffer from gastrointestinal issues. I also read the book Whole30 was based on, It Starts With Food, which was good, but not nearly as helpful as PP.) 

Lesson #4: If you don’t like something off a diet, you sure won’t like it on a diet.

Similar to lesson #3, if you are following a meal plan and you see a recipe that includes an ingredient you don’t like, omit it from the recipe, or skip it. I made the mistake and bought foods that I don’t really like thinking maybe my taste buds will change on this diet. Hahahahah NOPE. Cauliflower is still as gross on the diet as it is off. I think it’s good to experiment with different flavors and tastes, but if you know you don’t like something, omit that from the meal plan. There are only a few things you can eat, so make sure to fill your meals with things you enjoy.

Lesson #5: It’s expensive, but it doesn’t have to be that expensive. 

Eating healthy is more expensive than eating crappy. That’s just a fact. Mainly because fresh foods expire quickly and unhealthy foods can be filled with preservatives and chemicals that are cheap to produce, taste good and make foods last longer. Ever wonder why Cheetos expire 18 months from now?

You know me, I’m always trying to save a buck. For a long time spending money on food felt like a waste, especially when I got out of college and was forced to create my own budget. Why am I spending hundreds of dollars on food when I could buy clothes!

But what you put in your body is so important, that I think it’s worth spending more on quality food. It makes you feel good, and will save you lots of money down the road in health bills. So it’s expensive, but I don’t think eating right has to be that expensive. I bought a LOT of meat the first week, but realized that I could spread out the meat more with salads and vegetables dishes that just required a little meat. Also, I discovered some really delicious meals with canned meat that were super cheap. I plan to post a little more on what I eat each meal and share some of my favorite recipes.

Lesson #6: You always have a choice. 

Food is so social, and I love enjoying good food with friends. The hardest part of the challenge by far were social events. I strategically planned to do the challenge when we had little plans, but there were a few parties and events that I had to mentally prepare for. I thought that if I was on a diet, people I was with wouldn’t enjoy themselves as much, and I really hate being high maintenance and picky about what people serve. But really, it was just hard for me. No one else was seriously inconvenienced by my diet (except maybe J, since he had to eat what I cooked, had way more dishes to clean, and listened to be talk about this diet for 25 days). I made sure to bring my own food, or tell people ahead of time. It never was a big deal if I didn’t drink alcohol, and it goes back to the principle that people don’t think about you as much as you do. I learned that I always have a choice on what I eat and drink, and I never need to let people choose that for me.

So what’s next?

I want to keep going.

This is the very first diet I have ever done where I didn’t exhale a sigh of relief and then immediately inhale ALL OF THE FOOD. I had a lot of anxiety approaching the diet — nervous about what I was giving up, etc. — and I actually had the same anxiety as I approached the end of it, uncertain about what I was going to include back in, because I felt so good and liberated.

I love that food doesn’t have (as much) power over me. I think that’s the point of this diet — it shouldn’t be a diet but a lifestyle. Food certainly still has a strong hold, but not nearly as much as before.

So does that mean I am joining the ranks of those who ban all dairy, grains, legumes, sugar, alcohol and fun? Heck no, life is way too short to give it all up (unless you have a serious medical condition and need to). But I do want to maintain a 85/15 ratio between paleo and non-paleo foods. My goal is to eat paleo for breakfast, lunch, snacks, and as much as possible for dinner and at parties and events. I loved the way this diet made me feel about my body and my mental victory over food, so I want to continue along that path.

We will see. It is a journey. :)

Have you completed the Whole30 diet before?
What were your main takeaways?
Did you get the “tiger blood” they talk about in the Whole30 timeline?

PS – Read more on why I started. Coming soon: meal plans and my favorite recipes I ate this past month. :)

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