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Enjoying January:
The Present-Month Project

As much of the east coast is blanketed in white blizzard drifts, even though it is late in the month, it seems an appropriate time to post about January! And whether the thought of snow-days already fills you with images of steaming mugs of hot tea while watching the snowflakes flitter past the windows, or whether your mind first goes to thoughts of cold toes, this post is for you: a post about the things to enjoy in January. This is part of the Present-Month Project, focusing on the joys of each month as it comes.

What to enjoy in January

Overall, January is new and fresh. A time to make new goals, to step back and evaluate. A time that is less hectic, after the holidays. A time for renewal and freshness. Even the ground is often covered in clean, white snow.

January is also, in my mind, the purest Winter month. December is wrapped up in the holidays, February is heavily themed in Valentine’s Day, and March is looking toward Spring. January is a wonderful time to truly appreciate the slower, cozier side of winter, full of thick blankets, fresh snows, steaming mugs, and good books.

This post will largely be a list of ideas, centered around these themes. The categories: TASTE, LISTEN, DO, LEARN. As you scan it, and find which parts you like, I hope it gives you a variety of pleasant connotations to the month of January!

taste

TO TASTE:
January suits itself well to fresher, brighter tastes … especially after the richness of the last couple months’ turkey dinners, egg nog, and sugar cookies. I love foods in January that are still cozy, but not so heavy.

– Ginger and Cranberry. This is a flavor combination I started noticing a lot last January, and immediately fell in love with it. We had cranberry-ginger bagels, cranberry ginger-ale, cranberry-ginger anything I could find. It is such a fresh and clean and delicious combination, and just feels perfect after the richness of holiday foods. Keep your eyes open for it in January, or concoct your own versions at home.

– Citrus. There’s something so nice about that cheerful splash of brightness that in-season citrus brings us on the grey days of winter. I like to keep a bowl of clementines readily available for January noshing.

– Soup. There is nothing quite like having a pot of homemade soup bubbling away on the stove on a winter’s day. There is an absolutely endless variety, as well, just pick a favorite! I tend to like simpler flavors in January, like chicken and vegetable with dumplings.

January is National Hot Tea Month

– January is National Hot Tea Month! I love hot tea this time of year. A delicious steaming mug to wrap my hands around on a cold January day is simply perfect. And unlike coffee or hot cocoa, where I limit to maybe one or two cups, I can drink hot tea pretty much all day. And there are so many delicious options- green teas, black teas, herbal teas, you name it. Tea bags are convenient, and what I often use, but there is something beautiful about the ritual of brewing a pot of hot tea. (And it’s very easy. My favorite way? In a French Press!)

Here are a few of my favorites teas:
(and I do recommend a splash cream and sugar!)

Hot tea and other things to enjoy in January - The Flourishing Abode

– Harney & Sons: Boston. This is a black tea that was gifted to me and became an instant favorite, with its caramel and floral notes.

– Twinnings Irish Breakfast. A rich, malty tea, Irish breakfast features my favorite type of black tea, Assam. Assam is notably dark, sometimes called “the coffee of teas”.

– Republic of Tea Ginger Peach. Ginger is a favorite flavor of mine in January, and pairs deliciously with peach in this tea. One of the few fruit teas that you can have with cream.

– Cinnamon Plum. I rarely drink teas that can’t take cream (the fruit would curdle it), but this one is worth it. With the combination of warm spice and bright fruit, this is a refreshing but cozy flavor combination- which fits January perfectly!

listen

Classical Music and other things to enjoy in January

TO LISTEN:
– I think January is an excellent time for classical music. In general, I tend to listen to a lot of modern indie music, but classical music resonates with me this time of year. There is something beautiful that is a mix of somber and sweet that just fits the feel of January, at least in my mind. My husband took me to the symphony this month, and I can’t imagine a better time for it! I also stumbled across a Winter Classics album on Google Play Music, which I have been listening to and loving. (In fact, while writing this, it is playing, and I am sipping hot tea. Yes, it’s lovely.) Plus, I do like to have our children grow up experiencing beautiful pieces of culture like classical music.

Classical Music in January.jpg

Some favorites for January:

– Vivaldi’s Winter. This is a perfect choice, for obvious reasons. Music written specifically to capture the beautiful essence of winter? Yes, please. Do look for all 3 movements of “L’inverno” (Winter).

– Peter and the Wolf. Beautiful music and story. This, in my book, calls for both watching and listening. There is a very beautiful stop motion film made of Peter and the Wolf. It has no dialog, only the classical music, accompanied by the visuals of the story, and sound effects such as wind. It is set in a rather grim winter setting, and much like European desserts tend to be more bittersweet than their sugary American counterparts, this film it certainly more European in feel as a tale. Some people might not like it for their children, as it does have some bleak or dark aspects to it. Our family very much enjoys it, though, it is a January tradition in our house.

– Dvorak’s Cello Concerto. This is one of the pieces we heard at the symphony and has become a new favorite of mine. Three richly beautiful movements featuring a soloist of one of my favorite instruments, the cello.

– Gustav Holst’s Jupiter. One of my favorite pieces of all time. This is one very warm and powerful section in the middle which is the music I walked down the aisle to in my wedding. But the piece overall has a fascinating colder feel to me, perhaps tied into the outer space theme of the Planets suite. Regardless, I love all the dynamics of it from start to finish, and feel it is very fitting in January.

do

TO DO:
– Plan a long project. Especially if winter seems to go slowly to you, pick a big project that you want to get done before winter is over – one that you’re not sure if you can get done in that timeframe. I have a children’s book about winter that I’m wanting to write before Spring – and I don’t think I’ve ever known of a winter that has seemed to be rushing by more quickly. Because instead of the end of winter seeming distant, as each week passes, it seems like too short of a time to get my project done! Plus, slower snowy days can lend themselves well to indoor projects.

– Go sledding. It’s fun, it’s active, it’s only available part of the year. Bundle up the kids and go do it. Make sure you go down the hill yourself, too!

January - a good time for reading

– Read books. Go to the library and stock up. Read books aloud to your kids. Read books yourself. Put books and blankets around where you can grab them just as easily as your phone! Have a reading party where all the family piles up pillows and blankets in the living room, and have mugs of tea and stacks of books, and everybody enjoy reading together. It’s so cozy to be warm and snuggled with a book in your home while the January snow swirls around outside.

– Make goals. Not just resolutions that are going to be given up before the month is even over, but more substantial goals. As a new year has begun, it is a good time to ponder. While this post is about more light-hearted things, don’t neglect the more important things. Ecclesiastes is a good book to study this time of year, in thinking about perspective. (There’s a separate post on that coming later.)

– Light candles. It’s pretty, it’s cozy, it’s warm, it’s lovely, it’s perfect for January. Need I say more?

Board games and other ideas for snow days

– Play games as a family. This is the perfect time of year for board games with your family. Even simple ones – I’m not one to get excited about jigsaw puzzles, in general, but this time of year when we’re more homebound, spread out the puzzle pieces (and maybe some mugs of tea and a bowl of clementines) on the table, and before long you’ll find I gravitate to it, and we’ll be chatting and putting the puzzle together. Just pick and game and set it out on the table. A favorite of ours this January has been Suspend – it’s a building game, similar to Jenga, but with wires balanced on a post. Simple but fun. Whether it’s a new game like Suspend or Splendor, or old classics like Battleship, games are a great way to spend a snowy afternoon with family.

learn

– Learn about what other cultures do in the winter-time for fun. That is the basic concept behind our January WinterFest celebration. We pick a different theme each year and plan fun January activities, food, and puzzles about that theme. But you don’t have to build a holiday around it – just find a couple good ideas that other places do to make winter-time lovely, and try adopting them. Here are a couple fascinating articles to get you started: one about how the Norwegians enjoy all of winter with koselig, and one about the hygge approach to winter in Denmark (disregard the alcohol references). These are fascinating examples of how people in places that have even longer and colder winters than the US, don’t see winter as something to put up with, but rather something to enjoy.

Enjoying January on TheFlourishingAbode

I hope this has given you some pleasant thoughts about January! If sipping a cup of hot tea while curled up in a blanket reading a good book to your family sounds like a pleasant way to spend a snowy afternoon, then I call it a success. What are some of your favorite things to do in January? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!

The Present-Month Project

The Present Month Project - TheFlourishingAbode

I love living in New England. One of the things I particularly enjoy is that we get to truly and fully experience all four seasons. Fall, in particular, is absolutely glorious here, not just a quick blip in time, like in some other places I’ve lived. However one of those seasons is, obviously, winter. That’s not naturally my favorite time of year, and we certainly do experience it fully! But even winter has its advantages. Peppermint mocha and mittens, for instance.

The Present-Month Project - The Seasons

One thing I’ve been thinking about a lot lately is choosing to enjoy whatever season I’m in – whether it is a season of life, whether it is a season of the year, or whatever the circumstances are where I find myself — instead of wishing for something different.

I remember when I was about 10 years old, we were living in Europe. It was an amazing experience, and one of my favorite places I’ve ever lived. But I had to leave all my friends in the US to go there, which made me sad. And then when I was about to move back to the US, I was really sad to leave Prague. I was pretty down about it, and in both directions. I remember my dad sat down with me and explained something that affected me deeply. He said:

‘You can be the type of person who is always sad about what things you don’t have right now – you can spend your time in Europe being sad you’re not in the US, and spend your time in the US being sad you’re not in Europe, and you’ll just stay sad wherever you are. Or, you can be the type of person who focuses on what good things you do have right now, and spend your time in Europe being glad you’re in Europe, and then when you get to the US, then be glad you’re there. And then you’ll spend your time being happy. Which type of person would you rather be?’

I knew which kind of person I wanted to be, and I decided that then.

Seasons - The Present-Month Project

This past year, I started noticing a trend with my daughter, who is 8. If you asked her what her favorite season was in January, she would say “Winter!” After a couple months then she would answer, “Probably Winter – but also kind of Spring.” Soon the answer was “Spring!” Come July, it was “Summer!” In September, she would answer “Summer and Fall!”, and by November, it was fully “Fall.” I don’t know that she even realized that her answer was changing. She just fully appreciates whatever she is getting to experience at the time. She’s that type of person, and I admire it in her, and I tell her so.

When we hit the middle of winter, though, I struggle to keep that in mind. It doesn’t help that culturally, people here bond by commiserating together about how bad the weather is. And, to tell the truth, it really can be bad – here in Lowell last winter, we broke records for amount of snow, and were at the time the snowiest city in the country. It was blizzard after blizzard. But for some people I know, and in some areas of the world that do a better job embracing the cold, that is exciting, and this winter I want to focus on the positives. Because the fact is, it is going to be the current season whether I like it or not, so I might as well enjoy it!

And after all, in any season there are amazing things that you typically can only find peaking at certain times of the year, and that gives them a delicious feeling of expectancy and exclusivity. Fresh strawberries sliced on a puffed German oven pancake in June. Going apple picking in October. Hanging twinkle lights in December. Fireworks at the baseball park in July. Baking pumpkin pies in November. Juicy red ripe tomatoes in August. The scent of bountiful lilac bushes in May. A day of sledding ending with mugs of hot cocoa in February. And recognizing these things is what I’m calling “The Present-Month Project”.

The Present-Month Project - enjoying the season of each month

I often hear people talk about how they want to do a better job of eating seasonally- focusing their cooking on the particular produce that is at peak for that time of year. This is the same concept, just broader than food alone. The idea is that each month I want to come up with things that are unique or particularly enjoyable for that time of year, and take the time to recognize and appreciate them. Not all of them will necessarily be absolutely exclusive to that month, but I do want to really focus on what makes that particular month special, whether foods, activities, holidays, opportunities, or what-not-and-what-have-you.

fourseasons

I want to make this more specifically focused than just by season – I’ve already made illustrated art lists of general seasonal activities, above – and I love them, but those are fairly broad. Because after all, even though both are associated with winter, December is very distinct from February. And September has a very different feel than November, even though both have autumn. The Present-Month Project is about finding the particular tone of the present time of each month.

This project is not only about months that are perhaps not as popular, either, because even in months I just naturally enjoy, sometimes opportunities fly by and I suddenly realize I’ve missed it for the whole year (I always miss pick-your-own strawberry season, for instance!).

Also, it can be easy to mentally skip past special and wonderful times of year, in the hurry to get to something else down the road. For instance, how Christmas season often starts the day after Halloween. There’s still a lot of fall (and Thanksgiving!) to be enjoyed before winter begins, and it often gets missed or overshadowed — and in the meantime we hype up all the winter-cheer, but then Christmas and New Year’s Eve are over in just the first two weeks of winter and the whole freezing remainder lies ahead, with the festive side of “winter” having passed while it was actually still autumn. That’s just a weird set up, to me personally. We do only a little for Christmas, and just use it as a spring-board into the winter season, and have our big winter holiday (WinterFest) at the end of January. I know that very non-typical, though! While not all my monthly focuses will be so different from the norm, I still do want to be aware, as I go through the year, and as I go through my life, that I’m not neglecting to see current blessings in my hurry to move on to something else I want.

I think this will be a fun way to really take advantage of each month for myself and for my family. Plus, with a list in mind of all the happy things about each month, that will be an easy way to combat the list of complaints that can sometimes pile up at certain times of year. *cough cough* winter *cough cough* I’ll be planning to share each month’s post here on my blog. January’s is in the works, I want to get it up soon before too much of the month is gone!

I’m really glad I live in a world where God made seasons. All four of them.

(But I still totally reserve the right to have fall as my favorite.)

What is your favorite season, or some of your favorite seasonal things to do? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!

Some happy thoughts on a sad day

It was a year ago today that my younger brother passed away in drowning accident. I recently mentioned some more serious thoughts about his life and example, because his life truly was focused on what was important – serving God. Today, though, on this day where tears keep springing to my eyes, I wanted to share a few things that can’t help but bring a smile to my face, even while the tears still come.

Just random funny stuff he would say on Twitter…

A quote from one of his sermons, which our friend Hannah Roy sketched. It’s very indicative of how Adam thought … thankful for even little and quirky things, but always with a mindset toward God. You can listen to his lesson here (first one under Sermons -> 2012). Here is Hannah’s sketch…

And my new shirt, which features one of Adam’s original drawings of a robot punching a T Rex. I love it. Adam had been planning to sell t-shirts to help put our younger siblings through college. Adam didn’t get to fulfill those plans, but some of Adam’s friends, including Stephen Rouse, have helped to make some of Adam’s t-shirt designs a reality. So thankful. And the mug is a random quote mug we gave Adam that he used a lot:

I miss him. But he still makes me smile.

You are invited!!

Even if you don’t know much about me … you may know that I love books. In my art shop, FlourishCafe, I have designed a whole slew of prints with the theme of books and reading. I tend to devour books and have trouble putting them down. I love classics, I love sci-fi/fantasy, I love historical fiction, I love dystopian, I love mysteries, I love non-fiction.

So! Here’s the plan. As a part of kicking things back off in my blog and business this month, I’m going to be having a Book Party next Tuesday, live on Facebook!

I’ll have fun bookish games, ideas for encouraging a love of reading in kids, holiday shopping, aaaand, of course, fun prizes. I’ll have free book/reading-themed art prints from my FlourishCafe shop for prizes – and also free books from Usborne Books & More. Ever since I was … I don’t know, 13? … I LOVED Usborne books. They are my go-to place for engaging non-fiction. I’ve loved them for a long time, but just recently I became a part of their team, so I’ll have some Usborne books to share and give away for prizes as well.

Here are some previews of some prize options…

And here’s what to expect at the party:

SO! If you’d like to come hang out for some bookish fun, prizes and holiday shopping, let me know! It’s going to be a Facebook Event, and invite only, because I don’t want to be one of those people who is flooding everyone’s feed with stuff they’re not wanting to see. So if you want to come, just message me on Facebook, and I’ll add you as a friend so I can invite you to the party. (You can always un-friend me afterwards if you want, but Facebook is set up so the only way I can invite someone to an invite-only event is to be friends with them!) Here is my Facebook: www.facebook.com/april.s.starr

And … the first 20 people to RSVP “going” on the event each get an extra entry for the prizes, so don’t be shy to drop me a note. :)

So, here are the details …
What: Book Party!
When: Tuesday, Nov 18th @ 9:30 pm EST
Where: LIVE on the Facebook Event page
Who: Anyone who gets in touch with me to let me know they’d like to come! (Although, fyi on legal stuff … due to rules I have to follow, I can only offer the giveaways to 18+ in the US only.)

Hope to see some of you there – I think it will be fun!

A Fall Favorite – Spiced Tea Recipe

I love seasonal foods. Fresh strawberries sliced onto oven pancake in the spring, homemade chocolate ice cream in the summer, rich white chocolate “snowball” cookies in the winter. And in the fall, spiced tea. One of the reasons I love spiced tea is because you get to enjoy it in two different ways. First, as it simmers during the day and fills your home with the delicious aroma of cinnamon, cloves, apples, and a touch of citrus. And then, of course, as you wrap your hands around the steaming mug and get to sip the cozy autumn flavors.

It is very easy to make, and just creates a really nice atmosphere to have simmering as guests arrive for a fall gathering. Basically, it is a matter of throwing a lot of things in a pot, and enjoy the aroma and the taste. I also sometimes put in in the crockpot to keep warm and serve.

Below is the recipe I use. You can click here (or on the image below) to get the printable PDF version. Enjoy! :)

What are you some of your favorite autumn foods? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!

Opinions wanted!

Hello again friends. I have so many ideas bouncing around in my head, and I need your opinions!

So, as I mentioned earlier this week, I’m dusting off my blog and getting back into the swing of things. I’m working on planning my upcoming blog posts, and I’ve been trying to get a sense for which types of topics and directions I want to focus on with my blog. But, considering I’m not the one who reads this blog, I thought it would be a good idea to get input from those of you who do. :)

The types of topics I cover on my blog are pretty varied, but all have the central theme of things that affect our home and lifestyle. Here are some topics that I’ve done in the past … some of which I intend to include, but some of which I’m on the fence about continuing. So, let me know which types of things sound most interesting to you – and also if you have any ideas/requests that are not here! This is certainly not an exhaustive list, just kind of a sampling of things I’m tossing around…

Topics! In no particular order

DIY: Projects and how-to’s

BIZ: Running a handmade or creative business

OM NOM: Cooking, food, recipes

BIBLE: Verse printables & perspective

HOME: Family, marriage, schooling

APT: Organization & decor

DESIGN: Graphic design & art tips/info

WORDS: Books, reading, writing

PANACHE: Fashion & style

GO: Travel & exploration

So, a couple questions – and feel free to only answer one or answer all! I appreciate any feedback!
Questions:

1. Which of the topics interest you?

2. Are there any topics not listed above that you would enjoy seeing here?

3. Is there a post or topic on my blog that you’ve found particularly helpful in the past?

4. If you remember, what first brought you to my blog?

Leave your thoughts and answers in the comments below! Thanks!

The Last 2 Years & what it means to Flourish

Hello friends!

Well, despite a couple very half-hearted attempts to revive my blog, it has been sitting dormant for almost two years. In some ways I’m rather embarrassed about that, but in other ways, I’m not embarrassed at all. It’s been a difficult couple years, and honestly, there have been more important things that truly needed to take precedent. But as things are rolling into a little easier phase now, I feel I can again pick up blogging — and I’m looking forward to it! As for the last couple years, though, I’d like to share what has been going on … and what it is that I mean by a “flourishing abode”.

There was a time a little over a year ago when I was considering whether I could get back into blogging.
It didn’t end up working out. But I do remember one thing that struck me, as I considered my little online domain … the name of my blog. “The Flourishing Abode”. I looked around at my life – and it struck me that some people might not call it “flourishing”.

In the past few years, there has been a lot of upheaval….

There have been times where we had no idea where our income would come from or where we would be living. We’ve had job changes, and we’ve moved several times in the last few years … the last time was a very sudden move this summer which was not by our own choice, but circumstances outside our control. It turned out to be a blessing in disguise, and we love where we are now — but there were scary moments not knowing what was going to happen. Over and over again, when things were unknown, we were blessed with what we needed and more, even if it was difficult or different than we had planned. But to an observer’s eye, the word “flourishing” probably isn’t what would come to mind to describe our physical situation over the last few years.

In the past few years, our marriage has gone through a time of change….

There was crisis – serious crisis. But we came out of it on the other side with a deeper and happier love than ever before … and it’s because long before either of us took vows to love each other, we each committed to love God more than anything else. It was that first love, and being true to it, that carried us through the hard times, through the tears and heartache, to the other side where we could actually overcome the crisis. And now, we are happier and more in love than I could have imagined, and I am constantly amazed by what a wonderful husband I have. But in the middle of the hard times, it didn’t look like or feel like “flourishing”.

In the past two years, my family has experienced the joy of birth – and ache of death…

In August of last year, our daughter Evangelene was born into this world. A few months later, in November, my brother Adam passed from this world in a tragic drowning accident at the young age of 25. Evangelene and Adam never got to meet. We were going to get to see Adam just a little later in November … but it never happened. My little brother was gone. And yet … not lost. He was first and foremost a child of God. His determination to serve God defined him. He also had an incredibly silly sense of humor, he was a talented musician, and very athletic. But those things are not what defined him. It was his faith in God.

A year later, I still miss him terribly … I wish he could call me on the phone and do his ridiculously accurate Chewbacca impression or recite random facts on my voice mail about African elephants (yes, he’d done that before).

That won’t happen now.

But there is a much greater hope: “But I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day.” 2 Timothy 1:12

And that gets back to what it means to flourish. When I describe our home as a flourishing abode, I don’t mean there are no hard times. I don’t mean we always have tons of money. I don’t mean that there aren’t tears, heartache or sadness. Those things happen.

“But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. … So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”

(2 Corinthians 4:7-10, 16-18 ESV)

A lot of things may crumble around us … but the “inner self” can still be “renewed day by day”. That is how I want to flourish.

When I first started this blog, I initially considered naming it “The Flourishing Home”, but I chose Abode instead, because it sounds more temporary. Where we are right now — this apartment, this body, this life — is just a temporary abode. Sure, there are hard things sometimes. The last few years have been the hardest of my life so far- and I’m sure there will be other hard times ahead. But even in the midst of it, we can flourish, because we are not alone. There is One who will take us to our true home someday, when this temporary life is over. It is that hope and focus that can make a home flourish, whatever comes. It’s not just a catchy title, it’s my goal. To flourish in this temporary abode, because I know what I have believed, and I AM persuaded that He is able to keep me until that last day.

Here is a verse that has long been a favorite of mine … I’ve read it over and over and over again.
This is how and where I want our family to flourish…

That also ties into the verse I have on the banner at the top of my blog: “A merry heart has a continual feast.” (Proverbs 15:15) It’s not, “the one who has a physical feast on the table has a continual feast” or “the one who has an easy time in life has a continual feast.” It’s the one with a merry heart … the one who chooses to see the joy, whatever is on their figurative plate.

And lest this seem like a dreary post about how hard life has been in the last couple years … things are really wonderful right now. I even have enough time to get back into blogging! As my friend Lori Biesecker says, life is full of mountains and valleys. I’ve recently been through some difficult valleys, but right now I’m enjoying a peaceful mountain top. And I’m sure, for as long as the Lord lets me continue in this trek through life, there will be more valleys and more mountains. But He is there through all of it, and that is a blessing beyond words. That is the reason to have a merry heart, and to flourish, whether there are mountains or valleys along the way.

Thanks for sticking around with me. I’d love to hear from you in the comments below, even if it’s just a “hello!”

A happy announcement for our family…

Yes, we are expecting or second child!!

And yes, I am still alive. After almost a year of posting on my blog multiple times every week, even while travelling, or packing, or moving across the country — I suddenly fell off the face of the internet. My last post was at the end of November saying I would be back in a week. Yeaaah, that didn’t happen. There has been a lot of difficult things going on lately, and added on top of that, we just moved into a new apartment, Tim had to start working both an overnight job and a day job, and I have been very sick.

BUT – the good news is … Tim was able to quit both of those draining jobs and is now, for the first time ever, able to put his masters degree to work, and is officially an engineer! So happy for him – and so happy that we get to have more family time now that he only has to work one job. And, super happy news for us, the reason I’ve been so sick is that I’m expecting! I’m due in August, and I’m currently 16 weeks along. Our 5 year old is SO excited to be becoming a big sister. :) And a lot of the other difficult things are simultaneously getting better and making us stronger in the process. We are so thankful to God for his provision and seeing us through some dark days.

And sometimes in life you have to say “good-bye” to things that are, perhaps, nice and fine, in order to make room for something better. And so, I am officially closing down my graphic design business and shutting down my Etsy shop for good. We are no longer dependent on it financially, and while I’m grateful that I was able to help our family while still staying at home with our daughter, I am SO much looking forward to being able to devote more of my energy to our family and to more important things. I was, in fact, also planning to shut down my blog, but various family members and friends (including my husband) really urged me to keep it going. And I think I will – it is nice to have a creative outlet, and one where I can chronicle and look back at later and (perhaps) write something that someone else will enjoy, is worth it to me. I will not plan to post 3 times a week, like before, probably more along the speed of once a week. And the focus will be much more on the home and not on business … which was, after all, my intention in the first place with this blog.

But my Etsy shop … it’s going. I’m planning to close in about a week. So if there’s anything you’ve wanted to buy from my shop, now is the time to grab it. I’ve got some inventory I’m looking to get rid of, so starting today until I close, with any order I will also include 3 more prints for free (of my choosing from my inventory.) But very soon it will be closed for good. It feels a little bitter sweet, but I’m also really looking forward to the first time in 3+ years to not be shipping out orders anymore. :)

Anyway, I know I kind of abandoned my blog for a couple months there, and I’m not sure how many of you are still around. If you ARE still around … thank you for your patience. :) I’m so excited about this new phase of our life, and I’m also looking forward to writing here on the blog again.

Onward!

Stay tuned – we’re getting a new Abode!

We’re getting a new abode! And I don’t mean online – I mean in real life. Many of you know that about 3 months ago, our family moved to Boston. What you may not know is that in that interim time, we haven’t had our own home. Some dear friends of ours let us use their finished basement as our home base while my husband was working on getting a job up here. We’ve felt so blessed to be able to spend this time with our friends, and grow closer to them and learn from their godly examples. Things have been clicking along for Tim and now he does have a job — and this weekend we are at last able to move into our own apartment!

I’ve thought before that it might seem a little odd that I write a blog called “The Flourishing Abode”, at a time when we didn’t have our own home. And even when we have had our own home, I’ll be the first to tell you, I’m no great housekeeper. But, really, the space in which we live is not really what this blog is about. The important thing to me is not the house, but the home. And we constantly have to be working to improve our home and our family, because that is so much more important than a physical building. BUT … it is going to be nice to have our own physical apartment again! (And I do look forward to taking care of our family’s physical space with a new-found respect after being without it – here’s to improving my housekeeping skills!)

I’m really tickled about the apartment we found. It’s definitely going to be very urban living, which I’m excited about – we’ll be a 5 minute walk to the subway station. Bonus points – we live next door to a branch of the Boston Public Library. *fist pump* (On the off chance that you’ve never visited my art print shop, let’s just say a significant part of it is dedicated to my love of books.) We’ll be without a fridge for a short time, and I’m not quite sure how we’re going to get our furniture up the twisty stairs, but I know everything is going to work out just fine. I’m just SO excited! I hope to be able to put up some pictures of our new place before too long.

In the meantime, though, due to the huuuuge number of things I have to do this week, such as shipping all my orders from Black Friday – Cyber Monday, plus moving our things out of the storage unit and into our new place, I’m taking a one week hiatus from blogging. I’ll look forward to be back next Wednesday and pick up where I would have been this week, if we weren’t moving. So, stay tuned for your regularly scheduled programming!

A shout-out of thanks to our hosts who graciously let us live in their basement. And thank you to all of you who have supported my FlourishCafe shop and/or blog over the last few months – that’s been our family’s income! But most of all, I give thanks to God for his provision and care, even in less stable times of life.

See you next week!