Wednesday, February 29, 2012

::what a beautiful day::

Wednesday was such a beautiful, beautiful day to end the month of February.

I got a lot done including getting started on a big batch of verse cards.

Making raspberry chocolate muffins.  I know.  Yum.

Taking a walk.

Going to work, of course.  :)

 And [finally] planting a kilanchoe in my little planter.  I have been looking for the perfect-sized plant and found one earlier this week.  Hooray!


Monday, February 27, 2012

::endless gifts 631-645::

Sooo....I finally finished updating my thankfulness journal.  It's been fun to look back on each day and jot down a few things rather than looking back on the week and recounting blessings.  So here is my list from the past week. 

631. Mom and I working together on a table for our school's fundraiser
632. Mom's example of a sweet spirit
633. recovery from sickness
634. safety for Dad as he flies thousands of miles every year
635. a fun day with Max and Rachel
636. provision
637. chatting with a lady in my church
638. adversity
639. the 90 day challenge
640. a very good chat with Dad and Mom about something coming up in the future
641. cello lessons!!
642. modern medicine
643. chats with Mom
644. protection
645. safety for our missionary friends as they travel

Happy Mooooooondaaaaaaaaaaaay!  Another new week filled with new mercies!  Hall-le-lu-jah!


Wednesday, February 22, 2012



I have travel on my mind. 

This would be a perfect, comfy outfit.

Sorry for the short posts lately.

Life is busy, busy....which is a very good thing.

Current verse I am meditating on:

Delight thyself also in the Lord; and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart.  Psalm 37:4


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

::oh yes, I did::

In honor of National Pancake Day, I made myself a stack of blueberry pancakes for lunch.

I know this is the most stimulating and creativity inspiring blog post you have ever read here at Cotton+Wood so I thought I'd share a few more links to continue that creativity.

Liberty of London is opening a children's department >>> squeal from the cuteness >>> Little Liberty

 Beautiful, beautiful embroidery from Anna Maria Horner >>> Stills

Printable floral gift tags >>> Swoooooon


Friday, February 17, 2012

::friend Friday::April::

Oh my word.  Super excited to introduce to you April from Frugal Homemaking.  I am totally going to brag on her a bit.  She was an A+ student in school.  She was always super sweet in high school and had an obvious walk with God [then and now] -- definitely the girl we wanted to be more like.  She has a fun, sweet blog dedicated to her life as a mother -- especially her gift of being frugal.  Her love story with her husband, Ben, is amazing.  It is truly the working of God that they are married. Their love story is a blessing to me and I know it will be to you, too. 

Hi there, I'm April, and I’m pretty excited about guest posting for Rebecca today. We have known each other since my family moved to Chesterton when I was eight, so we go back a bit. Some of the things that I have always loved about Becca is she is just so doggone sweet and supremely classy. Now that we’re all grown up and everything, I have come to enjoy her blog for the words of truth and Biblical encouragement that are obviously an overflow of her life.

Since this week was Valentine’s Day, Rebecca suggested that I share a bit of my love story with you. I’ve never shared it on my blog before, and parts of it are ugly, but God has an amazing way of making ugly things beautiful, doesn’t He?

Ben and I met at Bible college in 2002. He was a junior studying missions, and I was a sophomore in the secondary education program when he asked me to attend a Christmas banquet with him. Ben is the iconic introvert, but I loved his serious, quiet nature that contrasted so sharply with my fun-loving, talkative self. We had a few dates sporadically during the spring semester, but then we traveled together the whole summer of 2002, representing our college in churches across America. By the end of the summer, I was in love and fully convinced he was THE ONE. By November, he had told me he loved me, and the subject of marriage had been broached—a huge development in our little college dating scene. Life was grand, I was in love, and the future seemed certain.

The one thing I hadn’t counted on was parental disapproval. My parents had met Ben, and he had asked my dad’s permission to date me. They had even taken us on a couple dates, and they thought he was a godly gentleman (which he is!) Unfortunately, my dad and Ben had a doctrinal difference that could not seem to be resolved. By December, my dad said he did not want me to continue dating Ben until the issue could be resolved. I knew my dad loved me, and only had my best interests in mind, so I obeyed, but my heart was in full rebellion. That Christmas and for months to follow, I wept bitter, heart-broken tears. Ugly, red-faced, ragged-breath, snot-mingled tears. Angry, fearful, untrusting tears. I cried every day. I could not understand why God was allowing my perfect world to crash so dismally before me. Didn’t God know I had plans? Those plans included serving Him! I had not yet learned that God’s ways are so much higher than our ways.

For the next year and a half, the battle raged. Ben and Dad met more times than they cared to count, trying to come to an agreement. I tried to convince both of them that they believed the same thing, they were just looking at it from two different sides—neither of them bought that coin. Eventually, they both gave up trying to agree. But Ben wasn’t ready to let go of our relationship, nor was I. At the same time, we weren’t willing to trust God with our future either. We began to communicate covertly, and we talked of eloping. Through a series of God-ordained events, it didn’t happen, and I gave up. Like really gave up. I quit trying to work it out. I gave God my hopes, my dreams, my plans. I foresaw my future as a spinster, quietly living out my days teaching school. I did not like it, and I wanted a different life script, but I submitted. I told God He could do whatever He wanted. Unbeknownst to me, God was working in Ben’s heart in a similar fashion.

Amazingly, just ten days later, God gave my dad complete peace about the situation with Ben. He called Ben, and told him we were free to date again. I pretty much floated for the next week. By November 2004, we were engaged, and just a year later, on June 10, 2005, we were married. By the way, Becca played her flute at our wedding!

I’d like to say I’ve learned this lesson of submission perfectly, but I haven’t. Ask Ben. But this history is now a memory that I can recall with confidence in an all-knowing, faithful God. I could not see the end of the story, therefore I failed to trust the One who could. Now I have experienced His goodness, and I know that He loves me, despite what circumstances may scream.

Unlike what this post may attempt to be, my blog is not insightful or theological. It’s just a chronicle of my days as a wife and mom, seeking to create a joyful place of peace on a sufficient but frugal budget. Come by and visit me to see my latest frugal adventures, creations, and stories!

Thanks, Rebecca, for letting me share my story in this happy little place.

Thanks for coming, April!!  So happy that you took the time to share with us.  Go visit April over at Frugal Homemaking!


Thursday, February 16, 2012

::local love::Shady Lawn Florist::

A while back, I started thinking.... 

...If "all of us" who have small online shops would begin to concentrate more on marketing locally rather than on the .same. .exact. .blogs. .over. .and. .over. .again. we'd probably feel less claustrophobic about our products and other people "copying" us. 

I have never felt that anyone has copied me simply because there's not much to copy.  I have a very small shop and I try to keep it simple.  But it's so exhausting trying to make sure your products are 100% original -- which is basically impossible -- because sometimes, we have the same ideas. [surprise!]

Anyways.  All that to say, that I wanted to start a new feature on Cotton+Wood spotlighting some of the local businesses in my town.  In the long run, I hope it pays off as a networking feature.  I'd love for my products to end up in local shops and this is just the beginning of that dream.

My first spotlight is the lovely flower shop, Shady Lawn Florist!

I have known the owners, Jim and Judy, since 2003.  They are the sweetest, kindest people you'll ever meet in town and I mean that truly!

 About this time of the year, I am drooling over the beautiful plants in their greenhouse.  What a balm to the winter weary soul!

It is a family owned business and the history is amazing!  This shop is a Chesterton treasure.

 Right now, a bunch of happy tulips are $9.99.

When kids stop in the shop, they can grab a piece of licorice and the bottle of fish food and head over to feed the resident fish population.

If you're ever in the area, stop by 726 South Calumet and pay them a visit!


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

::staying creative + energized::

Oh me. Oh my.

In this digital age, it is so easy to get bogged down with all the things we cannot do.  Or is that just me?  I do not naturally define myself as "creative."  I know, I know others may beg to differ.  But I know the real me.

One skill [shall we say] that I have been trying to hone is not comparing myself to others.  This can be a difficult task especially in this visual, artsy, and creative world.

I have learned that I am me.  I cannot compare myself to Suzy-Q blogger #13,879,907,097.

So what is that I do to stay creative and energized?  I have a list saved somewhere of ideas to keep creative.  That list is so helpful [especially considering the fact that I am a list girl].

However, I am not referring to that list.  These are just two things that have recently come to mind that helps me stay creative and energized.

Go to bed early.  Get up early.

I default to being a night-owl but I definitely love hitting the pillow extra early and getting up at the crack of dawn.  It's fun to see how much has been accomplished by mid-morning.

Read the paper.  Seriously.  We get the Wall Street Journal on Saturday.  I cannot believe the things I read and learned on Sunday night.

Did you know there are Jews in southern Africa?  No, seriously.  I didn't either.

I learned about the effect the drought has had on Texas and Oklahoma and the cows.  Oh, the cows.  The cows from Texas are smaller and have floppy ears compared to the cows in Iowa.  Really.

I dare not bore you with more stimulating news articles that I read.

But try picking up your local paper [mine's a bore, unless I want to find out about road closings] or a national paper.  Of course, many of the views expressed there will be biased and incorrect.  At times, though, there are some interesting topics being discussed.

What is that you do to stay creative and energized -- continually moving forward and learning?!


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

::Happy Valentine's Day::

I had another post planned for today and then remembered: It's Valentine's Day.

 The day of loooooove.

It is absolutely amazing and a testament to the changing, life-altering power of the Holy Spirit that I am happy on a day like today.

If you would have told me February 14, 2002 [I was a freshman in college] that that would be the first of many, many single Valentine's, I would have thought you were cra-zy.  Doesn't every starry-eyed freshman girl believe she will be married shortly after her senior year of college?

I know God has my future in His hands.

Here are a few quotes from one of my favorite books, Keep a Quiet Heart, to encourage any "singles" who may be reading here today.
Be quiet, why this anxious heed
About thy tangled ways?
God knows them all, He giveth speed,
And He allows delays.
Neither go back in fear and misgiving to the past, nor in anxiety and forecasting to the future; but lie quiet under His hand, having no will but His.

For me, Valentine's Day is hope for the future.  I never want to give up on God because I never know what treasure store of abundant blessing He has for me right around the corner.  I believe in Him.  And even if I never get married, God is still good.  All the time.  God is good, so gracious, and unbelievably kind.

Happy [heart] day.


Monday, February 13, 2012

::endless gifts 625-630::

I'm sure you haven't ever had this happen to you but it's a phenomenon in my life right now.

I have soooo very much to be thankful for but I can't put it in words.

I feel like I list the same things over + over + over again....which is a good thing.  Every day He abundantly blesses me. 

So just know that though my list is short, I have a huge, grateful heart today and always.

626.  restful sleep
627.  snow
628.  multiple games of Uno with the little girl I babysit....good times + many laughs
629.  wisdom from the Heavenly Father
630.  productive week

Happy Mondaaaaaaaaaay!


Thursday, February 9, 2012

::simple + useful + pretty::

When I open the top right hand drawer of my desk, I see some of my favorite things.

Really, I'm just a simple girl who loves simple, beautiful things.

three favorite writing utensils.
--sharpie extra fine point marker
--plain, old, normal, boring pencils [there's something nostalgic about them]
--treasured pen from our family's stay at the Langham

thankfulness journal

pretty stamps
[ps...I was doing a bit of research on tonight.  Did you know that if you print your postage at home, you can save a few cents?  Seriously.  As in 14-25 cents depending on the package + destination.]

bowl from Mexico holding paper on which I obsessively scribble lists 

What's the simplest thing that makes you smile?


Tuesday, February 7, 2012



So, I finally joined Polyvore.
I am a very predictable dresser.
Fairly straight-forward.  

I'd love this outfit!


::coffee chat::

Well, good morning, everyone!

This week is going to be great!  If I were to sit down and have a chat with you over coffee, I would tell you....

....that I am slowly getting caught up on my 90 days challenge [reading the Bible through in 90 days]
....the weather is cold -- not winter-like with snow but definitely not spring-like....I'm ready for spring!
....that my parents are re-modeling the office.  So therefore, our den is a hot mess.  But it super exciting to get [officially] organized in that room.
....I would ask you what you are doing about the fact that Google Friend is coming to end soon.  Are you transferring your subscriptions over to another reader?
....I would tell you that I am super disappointed that Picnik is closing.  Seriously, I just want to round the corners of my pictures!  I'm easy to please.  :)
....I would also tell you that my friends in Washington state opened up a shop!  And they are on such a roll with their shop that they've already gotten a local shop to carry their products!  Woohoo!  Check them out here >>> Far Above Rubies
....I would tell you that real life friends are amazing.  And blog buddies are just as sweet.

Have a happy Tuesday, everyone!!


Monday, February 6, 2012

::endless gifts 616-625::

Well, I'm over halfway to the 1,000 gifts mark. Aaaaand, my cute little thankfulness journal is almost caught up.

616. my friend, Sarah
617. birds chirping in January
618. growth of new Christians 
619. wisdom and advice
620. promises of God
621. guidance from the Holy Spirit through the Bible
622. provision for my needs every single week
623. productive days
624. a healthy Mom
625. hope for the future


Friday, February 3, 2012

::Friend Friday::Michelle::

I'm so happy to introduce you to Michelle Hoover!  She and I have met a few times.  Our connection is that her husband and my brother are good friends.  Also, I went to college with two of her sister-in-laws!  Michelle is a beautiful girl and super-da-duper talented.  She plays the piano extremely well, sings, and does fantastic design work on the computer.  I'm very happy to have her here today!

Valentine’s Day … it’s such a cute holiday! I love how you can enjoy it with friends, family, or the one you are totally in love with! In college, we traded Valentine’s with other girlfriends that were single, (even though we were secretly wanted our OWN Valentine) we thought we would make the best of the situation. Here are some of the girls, from my freshman year, that I shared Valentine’s with …

It’s amazing how much you can change in four years! These girls made college so much fun for me that first year! I was the only one there from my church, so they became some of my greatest friends. 

When I think of the most important girls in my life, I think of my sisters. I am the oldest of five girls, and feel very matronly when I talk about them! :) Kimberly (20) is a Junior in college this year … so crazy! Natalie (18) is serving at my Dad’s church in PA. Danielle (15) and Olivia (12) are up to something, but they are too young to text and call me, so I’m not even sure! :) My sisters and I have way too much fun together! There is never a dull moment!

Last February 14th was the best Valentine’s Day of my life. I met a man name Paul Hoover in September 2010 and my life drastically changed! We dated for a short time and on February 14, 2011 he asked me to marry him! Of course, I said YES! It was my first and only Valentine’s Day with the man of my dreams, who is now my husband! :)

I met Rebecca through my husband, Paul. Rebecca’s brother, Geoff, was Paul’s best man in our wedding. Paul thinks the world of the Gaus family and talks about them often. Rebecca is one of the sweetest girls I have ever met! We have only had about three real-life conversations, but I know this much: she is a talented musician, a BEAUTIFUL girl, she is always a lady and carries herself in such a respectful way, and a pretty amazing blogger! I wish you a very Happy Valentine’s Day!!

Yay!  What an awesome day to get engaged!  Thanks for sharing, Michelle and thank you for your kind words.

Happy Friday, everyone!


Wednesday, February 1, 2012

::cuteness invasion::

Okay, so maybe not the best picture on the planet but this is what I wanted to show you all!

While we were in the fabric store on Monday, there was a panel of fabric folded together all nicely.  It interested me but I didn't unravel it.  When my Mom walked past, she said, "Oh you can make little dolls with this fabric."   Whaaaaaat?!

I was instantly smitten.  Of course, my mind went first to our dear friend, Carol, who is having her first baby a few days before my birthday.  Then, my mind went to my shop.  I know I don't do children's toys and truthfully, have never entertained the idea.  But this is just too ____________ [beautiful/gorgeous/wonderful/organic/amazing/astonishing/astounding/fabulous/terrific]......[fill in the blank] pass up.  I have no words.

There are three other dolls and animals.  I only had time to do one set before I had to break away and show you all this first set.

They will be offered in the shop sometime soon.

::In other news::
//It is a "balmy" 45* today.  Last year at this time was a huge snow storm that crippled our entire metropolitan area for two days.//
//I discovered hummus yesterday.  My world has been changed.//