garden of my mind

a stroll through some blooming thoughts & weeds

valentine seed bombs

Don't get me wrong.  I love the boxes of valentines you get at the grocery store and I love vday candy.  But I was looking to do something a little different and creative with Lula for her preschool classmates this year. And since she recently stopped napping (I know I got in a solid 4 years!), we have been using our afternoons as fun one-on-one time.  This was a perfect activity for her.

I saw a package of these seed bombs for sale at Paper Source and I had the thought all creatives do when they see something they like, "Hey! I could make that!" So I researched a lot of recipes and this is the one I like the best.  Also, bonus points for only having to buy the cheap little seed packets and card stock! 

I printed my own valentines on pink card stock (from my fav paper store Oliver's Twist).  One side says, "Valentine, I love to watch our friendship grow." The other side gives the instructions, "Plant these hearts. sprinkle with showers. add some sun & love, in no time you'll have pretty flowers. Happy Valentine's Day."  But there are so many clever sayings you could use instead: let love grow, i'd pick you every time, plant seeds of love, you're growing on me... and on and on. 

**You don't have to make a ton of these. You could do a few large hearts and pair it with home-painted terra cotta pot to give to grandparents or teachers!**

Here are the materials you need: 

a food processor, blender, or hand mixer

boiling water

seeds

heart cookie cutter (or whatever shape you'd like) 

splatter screen or some other kind of screen for drying purposes

construction paper or old newspaper

paper towel

hot glue or needle & thread/yarn or hole punch

Optional: food coloring

1. Rip paper into pieces and place in a big bowl.  I used construction paper without food coloring, but you could use old newspaper and add coloring in with the hot water to get your desired hue. 

 

2. Pour boiling water in bowl so the pieces of paper are submerged.  If you are using food coloring, add it now. Let it soak for 10-15 minutes. 

3. Transfer the paper mixture to your food processor or blender and pulse. You want it to turn into a nice pulp.  

4. Pour in seeds and stir to incorporate. I used 4 different seed packets and about 8 pieces of paper to make 12 hearts. 

5. Place paper towel under your splatter screen to collect any water. 

6. Put your cookie cutter on top of the screen and scoop a small portion of the seed pulp into the cookie cutter.  Gently press down to make sure the pulp fills the heart shape. 

7. Slowly lift the cookie cutter up and repeat.  

8. Let them sit for 24 hours or until dry and then adhere to your valentines.  Mine took a a good amount of time to dry because they were thick.  I put them on a drying rack with a ceiling fan over them. Then I used a needle and yarn to attach them to the card stock, but you could try hot glue or hole punching too! 

xo- Happy Valentine's Day everyone. 

 

the city

people going down to the ground, buildings going up to the sky.
— Bob Dylan

 

I crossed a huge bucket list item off a few years ago when my husband and I moved to New York City. We had a tiny apartment with no stove or oven and our shower was in the closet, but the city was our backyard and we explored every cranny.  I danced on the stage of the Apollo Theatre, watched fireworks from rooftops, spent more money on food, taxis, and clothes than I should have, gave birth to my sweet daughter overlooking Central Park, oh so many memories...I'll do another post on that later.  For now, I want be a tour guide for you and share some of my favorite places in NYC.  If you are planning a trip there, consider this a tiny speck-of-a-list of things to do and places to eat. And to get pumped up listen to my NYC spotify playlist. 

Eat

Eataly

One of the best places to eat is Eataly at 23rd & Broadway. It is set up as an Italian marketplace with several restaurants and counters inside to find food. It certainly puts the Little Italy neighborhood to shame. You can stop in for a quick cappuccino and gelato or sit down and enjoy one of the best Italian meals you will ever experience. My favorite there is the pizza/pasta restaurant. On weekends and evenings there are extremely long waits so it might be a good idea to head over for a late lunch or early dinner. Food selection? You can't go wrong with the basic Cacio E Pepe, but I also love the Short Rib Tagliatelle. While you wait, meander around the market and see where some New Yorkers shop for fresh pasta, breads, produce, and meat. They also have a wonderful selection of upscale food items to bring back as souvenirs or gifts.

Trailer Park

Also on 23rd street, but on the west side of the city is a tiny hole in the wall bar and greasy spoon, Trailer Park. I recommend this place not only because they sell tator tots and cheesesteaks, (and that is exactly what you need after walking all day) but also because the environment is kitsch heaven. The walls are covered with an absurd collection of photos and the ceiling with tinsel. There is an actual trailer inside and the bathroom décor is on point. Trailer Park is perfect stopping point to sit back and refuel.

 

Chelsea Market

If you are traveling with several people it might be hard for everyone to agree on one place to grab grub. Head over to Chelsea Market, which houses one of the best Anthropologies I've ever shopped, and also a top notch food court. Meander through the old warehouse and find a seat at the exposed brick walls. You'll find something for everyone; vegan sushi, hearty soup, grilled cheese, cupcakes, and so much more.

Pizza

So you're in New York, you have to have a slice of the real stuff. Lore has it that because of the amazing quality of NYC water, the flavor of the pizza dough is unparalleled. And with a pizza joint on nearly every block you'll have to eat it for a meal AT LEAST once while you are there. If you are doing the touristy thing in Times Square, eat at John's Pizza. It is a nice atmosphere and a crowd favorite. Eating on the go? Try it by the slice at Joe's Pizza on Bleecker and Carmine in Greenwich Village. It is a self-proclaimed “pizza institution” and had been named one of the best 25 pies in the world. My favorite way to eat pizza in the city is to eat it picnic style while gazing at the lower Manhattan skyline. Take the subway to Brooklyn. Head to DUMBO and either wait in line at Grimaldi's or go to Front Street Pizza and get a pie to go. Then walk the few blocks down to the DUMBO park and eat outdoors Down Under the Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridge Overpass. While you're there take a ride on Jane's Antique Carousel and then explore Brooklyn Heights, one of the prettiest neighborhoods of all the boroughs. I mean one of the streets in named Pineapple Street! Waltz down the Brooklyn Promenade...another perfect spot for pictures and a for glimpse of the lovely Lady Liberty herself. Then walk the Brooklyn Bridge back to Manhattan for more killer views. 

The Little Owl

If you're feeling fancy, head back to Greenwich Village, underneath the Friends apartment building facade for a delicious and intimate place to make a true New York memory. My husband and I ate here for Thanksgiving one year and had the best time. They serve American food for lunch and dinner. I would recommend making reservations for this one too.

Serendipity III

I know this restaurant is super touristy, but it remains a classic place for every day New Yorkers to meet up and dine under Tiffany lamps. Located on the far Upper East Side, this iconic eatery is a full service restaurant but many come just to satisfy the sweet tooth. You can make reservations and I recommend it. Or You can put your name in and wait the three hours at Bloomingdales or Central Park :) I go to Serendipity for the Forbidden Broadway Sundae. It is a huge piece of chocolate cake, ice cream, hot fudge, and of course whipped cream. But I'm certain the Frrrrozen Hot Chocolate is the most popular dessert item. Hey, if Serendipity was good enough for Andy Warhol, it is good enough for me.

Other places to check out: Laduree, Mel's Burger, Prohibition NYC, Shake Shack, Absolute Bagel, Doughnut Plant NYC

 

To Do

Observation Decks

the observation room at the World Trade Center

the observation room at the World Trade Center

You came for the skyline. You have to see New York from up above. There are three traditional observatories to get the glimpse you came for and each is great for its own reason. You can't get anymore classic then riding up to the 86th floor for the highest outdoor observation deck in the city at The Empire State Building. It gives incredible views and the a refreshing wind tossed look for your hair. Another spot to get a bird's eye view is 30 Rock. I like this one because it is outdoor as well but the walls are glass, giving a cleaner shot... and it gives a beautiful perspective of Central Park; on the other side an incredible picture of Manhattan with the great Empire State Building in the background. However, my personal favorite is the observation room at the World Trade Center. You take a 47 second elevator ride to the 100th floor and get a history lesson at the same time. Once you are up there, they lift screens to unveil a shocking 360 degree view of the best city in the world. It is such a remarkable place because of the beauty it shows and also the history it holds.

Central Park

This is my place. My favorite place. It is incredible to me how you can be in the busiest city and then step into complete serenity. I love to picnic here but there is so much else to do too. There is a marionette theater, carousel, sailboat pond, ice skating, concerts, bike rentals, hiking, walking, jogging... A lot of people enter from the southeast corner by the Plaza Hotel on 5th Avenue but try to get away from the people and enter by the Met or from the West Side and you'll get out of the touristy areas and really be able to breathe it all in.

 

Brooklyn Botanic Garden

One of the most glorious places in the entire city is the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. Depending on the time of year you go, you might not want to leave the 52 acre park. In June the rose garden is in full bloom and I'm positive it is a glimpse of Heaven. Go in the Spring for the Cherry Blossom trees and let the pink petals rain down on you. In the winter, get warm in the indoor desert conservatory and fall in love with the cacti. The garden is located in a fun part of Brooklyn too and on the border of Prospect Park, Central Park's younger sister.

The Met

Depending on how long you are spending in the City, you'll want to check out a museum. There are hundreds of places you can go but I recommend The Met for several reasons. 1. You can technically pay a penny to get in. They have a recommended admission charge, but your ticket is donation based so you can give whatever you would like. 2. The architecture of The Met itself is amazing. You can sit on the steps outside and people watch, meander through the huge marble halls of the lobby, and even enjoy a cocktail on the terrace. 3. The art collection is one of the best in the world. They really have it all and bonus if you go when the fashion exhibit is on display.

Other places to check out:

Lincoln Center, Grand Central Terminal, The High Line, The Guggenheim Museum, Riverside Park, Washington Square Park, Lower East Side, Coney Island

 

Shop

SOHO

SOHO means south of Houston Street and Houston is not pronounced like the city in Texas but like house + ton. It has everything from the iconic Bloomingdales and Kate Spade flagship to more common mall stores like Madewell and Nike. Enjoy going down the main drag on Broadway but also veer off down the narrow brick side streets.

West Village

For more of a boutique shopping experience head to Bleecker street in West Village. The streets are lined with shops, perfect to find a unique souvenir. I love the Goorin Bros. Hat Shop and then stopping for a treat at Magnolia Bakery.

Antique Garages

The Chelsea garage I went to while I lived there has now closed but they have transitioned to a few new spaces that I have read good things about. It is has numerous vendors and is open every weekend. Check out their website for location and more details. 

Flower District

Wake up early and head to 28th Street between 6th and 7th for a gorgeous flower experience. I realize you might not be arranging flowers on vacation but it is pretty enough start to your day and it gives you a glimpse into an incredible industry in the city.

5th Avenue

I have only window shopped at the luxury stores of 5th avenue but there is something to be said to rub elbows with the well heeled and dream. There is everything from Valentino to Bergdorf to Henri Bendel's. Of course, every girl has to make it to see the five floors of sparkling Tiffany's too.

 

Stay

I don't have a lot of recommendations on where to stay because I got to know the city the best when we lived there. If I were going back for an extended trip, I would definitely look for an AirBnB. For me, the best part of New York City is the day-to-day grind. You won't find that charm in a Midtown hotel. Go to the Upper West Side, Chelsea or even Park Slope in Brooklyn. Find a little nook and explore! 

 

Getting Around

Walking

20 blocks = 1 mile and blocks east to west, or crossing avenues, are longer. Because most of the city is set up as a grid the city is super walkable. Once you get down into Greenwich Village and lower, the streets wind a bit more and your map app will need to be handy. 

Subway

Get the NYC subway app for sure. Study it for a bit so you can get a lay of the land. Locals are helpful, but of course it is better for you to have an idea of where the heck you are and where the heck you're going. There is also subway etiqutte. Check out this link for more info.

Taxi

 

It wouldn't be a trip to NYC without a ride in a taxi. Yes they take cards and this is a great article on hailing a cab.

 

I hope some of you are able to experience some of these things and the love of NYC.  

 

**All the images shared are my own. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

decade

Somehow this weekend I celebrated a whole decade gone by since I graduated from the best college ever, Taylor University. My best girls and their girls all came to town to reminisce over muddy buddies, chips & dip, and lots of diet coke. Our friendship is so unique.  We are spread across the country now but each year we manage to get together and it is like we were never apart. We have the opportunity to be vulnerable and pray for one another and of course laugh until our cheeks hurt.  God has blessed us richly. 

On Saturday morning of Homecoming weekend, I had the awesome opportunity to host a flower crown workshop for the gals I graduated with in '06. We gathered in the new student center overlooking a perfect fall day; surrounded by flowers and friends.  Some even brought their little girls, including me! 

I shared a condensed version of my testimony. Through some tears I tried to hold back, I talked about how God turned some hurt in my life into something beautiful.  And I encouraged everyone that God wants to do that for those who love him. Ecclesiastes 3:11.  God wants to trade the ashes on our heads for a crown of beauty. So we made B E A utiful flower crowns to remind us of this incredible hope. 

Every crown was unique and gorgeous and it made my heart swell to see such beauty when they were graced on the sweet heads of all the wonderful women and girls there.  My pal and awesome photographer, Lexi from Doodle Shots drove up to document the fun morning.  I won't forget that workshop. It has a special place in my heart and soon on my walls when I get these amazing photos framed. 

unqualified

My church is doing a series called Profile and we are digging into what it means to be his disciples and bear much fruit.  These are just some of my reflections after our connection group discussed the last sermon and after some reading I did on my own. 

So I'm sitting in a circle with my sisters in Christ talking about how unqualified we think we are to be disciples and I'm thinking about this incredible lie Satan has convinced sooo many women into feeling, including me.  He has told us, and we have believed it, that whatever our sins are and whatever our motives are, they aren't from God.

Who's report will we believe? A God who says we will do greater things than Jesus, John 14:12. One who says he had written his law on our hearts, Jeremiah 31:33. One who says we are 100% justified and righteous forever and ever just by saying I believe, Romans 5:1. One who says he rejoices over me with singing, Zephaniah 3:17. One who says the battle is his, the battle is won, 2 Chronicles 20:15  if he is for me than who can be against me, Romans 8:31. One who sent His only son to the world to die, for me, John 3:16. Why is it so hard for me to believe this? My identity must be built on shaky ground. 

If we feel scared about sharing this unfailing love, what does that mean? Who are we fearing? Who are we believing? The word written on our hearts should make us feel, as Jennie Allen says in her book Restless, "empowered, convicted. encouraged, and peaceful." If we aren't feeling this way about our faith (and sharing our faith) we need to take this lie to God and plead the blood of Jesus cover it and wash us clean.  He has made all things beautiful. We get to be a part of that but Satan has us on the sidelines analyzing, worrying, paralyzed, not active. It was several months ago at the If Gathering that I realized I was not in this game. That I had a cloud of witnesses cheering me on like Paul, John, Esther, & Mary and I was not participating because of ME. 

How can we believe? I suppose it is memorizing the truth to dismiss the lies.  Being vulnerable and showing how God has taken the yuck and made it beautiful.  Humbling ourselves and giving people the opportunities to see the makeover God is doing on us.  The continual sanctification. I need to respond.  I need to become like a child dependent on my Father. 

I heard a quote that we can check to see if we are prideful or relying on ourselves too much if we wake up in the morning and start it without seeking our God first.  Phew, convicted. I think of my daughters who count on me to make them big bowls of oatmeal first thing in the morning; we need spiritual food.  I think about picking out their clothes and dressing them to prepare them to leave our little haven for the day; we need to put on our armor. I think about how my daughter will ask me, "what are we doing today?" We need to consult God about our schedules. It would be crazy to think they could do all of it on their own.  Why am I not depending on God each and every start to the day? I am opening myself up to defeat and schemes. But maybe even more importantly, I am giving myself way too much credit. 

I suspect that is where the fear of being unqualified comes in because I know my shortcomings and that puts a horrific amount of pressure on my pride and performance. The Lord has assigned to each his role and it has nothing to do with us (1 Corinthians 3:5).  We are being used by the Holy Spirit and THAT should grant us unspeakable peace when it comes to talking to others.  

His Power Is Made P E R F E C T in My Weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9)

Paul says we should boast in that, not worry about what others will think about it. That is when the real work begins when others can see our transformation. 

I get nervous talking in front of people; Praise be to God. I'm awkward; Praise be to God. I can be too serious and overwhelming; Praise be to God.  I am struggling; Praise be to God. 

Use me Lord.  Let me rest.  You qualify me and nothing else. I am a missionary and your amazing grace is all I need. 

I also heard this sermon on Moody radio today that hits a home run on the topic.  

rifle paper co. pumpkin workshop

photo by workshop participant @karissasprinkle 

photo by workshop participant @karissasprinkle 

20 people squeezed together with friends and family to craft and chat at my fall Rifle Paper Co. pumpkin workshop at Oliver's Twist.  I could tell by the laughter that everyone was having a good time.  And the finished products were soooo cute.  How could they not be with Rifle Paper Co. covering them! 

I want our get togethers to feel like party nights with good friends.  So I served homemade pumpkin cake roll with to die for cream cheese frosting (thanks mom!), hot spiced cider with ginger snap cookies to dunk , and pumpkin punch served in a pumpkin.  I got the idea here and it was super easy and festive. 

Then we chatted for a bit about how God makes everything beautiful in its time.  We are created in God's image and just like we like to make things beautiful from our nail polish to house decor, God makes things beautiful.  He wants to take our old yucky, muddy pumpkins from the fields of hearts and wrap them in flowers and set them on your mantle and doorsteps for all to see.  He wants to display His incredible nature of taking bad and making good from it... if you let Him. God has taken and is still constantly working on me; transforming my sin and loving me. Now, I am proud to show and tell what God has done and is doing. So if you are experiencing something tough, hard, overwhelming, or ugly... give it to God.  Father, we hand over the ugliness of our lives and ask you to make it beautiful.  Then set it on our doorsteps so we can share Your glory with others and help them feel your unfailing love.

After that we got down to it! Decoupaging rifle gift wrap in the cutest patterns on our pumpkins.  Some added glitter, some paint, some even lettered beautiful phrases and words! Each one was so unique. 

If you're looking for a fun night out with your favorite gals, check my workshop page for current openings.  I also host private parties... think showers, bachelorette parties, small groups, MOPS, any reason to celebrate!