Gathering Fashion Inspiration

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Those of you who know me well are probably laughing at my title.  I have never been known for my trendy style or love of shopping.  The majority of my clothing comes from Goodwill, and comfort is a huge priority for me.

However, I recently read an e-book called The No Brainer Wardrobe and I have to say, it inspired me.  While I’m not interested in spending lots of money or being on the cutting edge of fashion, I AM interested in having a functional, well-organized closet, full of pieces that work well together.  I am all about simplifying my life.

If that’s appealing to you and you struggle in that area the way I do, I highly recommend spending the $8 and 1 hour reading the book.  You will immediately want to purge your closet!

The author gives one piece of advice that has really stuck with me.  She recommends making a style board on Pinterest, pinning various outfits you love.  She then recommends looking for common themes.  This was so eye-opening for me.  I had never really evaluated what clothing I am drawn to.  Here are some of my discoveries:

1.   Dresses, dresses, dresses.

Okay, this one I knew.  I practically live in dresses.  I especially love knee-length dresses with sleeves.  My love of dresses is so obvious.  Just look at my Pinterest board, Dresses I Love.

My inspiration:


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Orla Kiely

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I love that many dresses can be worn year round, with sandals or boots, with or without a cardigan.

2.  Stripes, Plaid, Polka-dots

Once I started evaluating my likes, I was amazed at how much fell into one of these three categories.  Here are some examples from my Fashion board.

adorable

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oui oui

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perfect layers

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3.  Feminine Detail

I wouldn’t say I go overboard with lace and frills, but I do appreciate a feminine touch, especially when it comes to dresses.

Love the colors

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Cardigan love

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4.  Black & White, Blues, Greens, Yellows

While I don’t limit myself from wearing certain colors, my preferences seem to lean toward black & white and the whole yellow, green, blue spectrum.

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Layering striped tee under a dress.

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love green green green.

(Source – from my board I <3 Green!)

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I think identifying these preferences will serve me well, especially in future purchases.  It has already helped me to think outside the box in styling items I already own.  There may be hope for this thrifty non-fashionista!

What about you?  Do you put a lot of effort into your wardrobe?  Is your closet out of control?  Do you long to streamline and simplify?  What style, color and patterns are you drawn to?  I’d love to hear from you!

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A Gathering of Links XVI
Our Wheat-Free, Almost Paleo Diet
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A Gathering of Links XVI

links It’s that time again! I have been saving up all of my favorite links to share with you, and as usual, some of them are fantastic. But first… some updates on life in the Rennard house…..

Our church, Gathering, has had morning prayer every day this week from 6-7. It has been so amazing to gather with friends and pray while we watch the sun rise. I think I have always known in the back of my mind how powerful consistent early morning prayer can be, but this is the first time I have experienced it in such a profound way. Sitting in my living room, surrounded by my brothers and sisters in Christ, ushering in a new day with prayer and consecration felt sacred and holy.

I started back to work at the preschool last week. Isabel goes with me and LOVES her class. I love being able to peek in her room and see her interacting with the other kids. Ava has had a great first three weeks and joined the school choir. Her passion seems to be music, and this excites me. After years of struggling through violin practices and lessons, she has turned a corner and can MAKE MUSIC! Violin is a difficult instrument and she still has a long way to go, but as my mom says, “Once they realize they can make music, everything changes.” We are over a month into our wheat-free diet and going strong. Here is some first day of school cuteness for you:

firstday firstday2 Let’s get to some links! My most popular post from the last two weeks is: Dear Dad, Letter 1.

That doesn’t include my posts that gets lots of hits from Pinterest.  These are:

A Gathering of Recipes for Crowds

Gathering Ideas for a Shabby Chic Bedroom

Gathering for a Shabby Chic Baby Shower

My favorite links, in no particular order:

Spiritual Inspiration:

From A Deeper Story, There Are No Trophies Here

11 of the Greatest Hymns in Church History at (in)Courage.  This is really cool.

On Truth, Specks, and the Blinding Goodness of  God at Narrow Paths to Higher Places

Over at Rachel Held Evans, What Would Jesus Do (With His Enemy)?

In Which I Will Become More Undignified from Sarah Bessey

At A Holy Experience, When You’re Ready to Wear Who You Really Are

You don’t hate me.  You hate my brand.  From Rachel Held Evans

From Tim Brister, From Strangers to Missionaries:  A Neighborhood Strategy for Mission

Food Love:

Broccoli Slaw at Smitten Kitchen

At A Beautiful Mess, It’s Smoothie Time!

How to be a Great Dinner Party Guest from Shauna Niequist.

Marriage and Parenting:

In Which I Beg Barbie’s Pardon from Sarah Bessey.

Worst End of Summer Mom Ever from Jen Hatmaker.  So funny.

How Mothers Are Made from Lisa-Jo Baker

From Addie Zierman, For the One Who Married Young

Home Love:

From Design Mom’s Living With Kids series, Living With Kids:  Emily Hart.  I love this home.

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So there you have it!  Grab a cup of coffee, sit outside on a summer afternoon and read some of these posts for inspiration.  I guarantee you won’t be disappointed!  Have a great weekend!

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Our Wheat-free, Almost Paleo Diet

When my husband came home from the doctor a few months ago and told me his doctor recommend a wheat-free diet, my heart momentarily sunk.  I have a long, complicated relationship with food.  While I have never had terrible eating habits, my motivation for eating healthy food was mostly so that I could indulge in whatever I wanted later on.  When I heard wheat-free, I immediately started thinking of all the things I couldn’t eat if we chose this nutritional path.

Then I started some research.  Diabetes runs in my husband’s family, and he has been on medicine for “pre-diabetes” for quite some time.  His doctor assured him that cutting all wheat from his diet would lead to weight loss and getting rid of the medicine.  Our doctor himself is on a wheat-free diet.

I won’t go into the science of why many scientists and doctors are recommending the diet, but our doctor recommends the book Wheat Belly as a starting place.

I also happen to have a brother who adheres to the Paleo diet and sings the praises of the health benefits he has experienced.  Paleo goes a few steps beyond eating wheat-free.  Again, I won’t go into the science of it, but you can read more about it here.

Our family has landed somewhere in the middle.  We are eating a strictly wheat-free diet, and are getting closer to a strictly Paleo diet, although we occasionally consume rice, potatoes, corn, and dairy.  For us, the changes have been drastic.  I try not to focus on numbers, but in about  6 weeks, I have lost 13 pounds.  I feel more energetic overall and feel better about the foods I am putting into my body.  We attempt to eat the highest quality foods possible, buying mostly organic and buying high-quality meats from the Noblesville Real Food Market.  We have cut out nearly all processed foods and very rarely eat out.

If I were a food blogger, I would have fantastic photos to share with you of the kinds of meals we eat.  A food blogger I am not.  However, I will share with you what a typical weeks looks like for us, just to get you thinking.

*Please note that nearly all of the ingredients should be organic and high-quality.  Also, these are not recipes, but merely examples of a meal plan.

eggedited
Egg Muffins
Monday:

Breakfast:  Egg muffins (made on Sunday) with organic eggs, chicken sausage, mushrooms, onion, and green pepper

Lunch:  Chicken sausage hash (same that I used in egg muffins), organic red pepper slices, fruit salad

Dinner:  Large spinach/baby green salad with artichoke hearts, heart of palm, tomato, cucumber, mushroom, feta cheese, kalamata olives, red/green peppers, onion, and protein of choice (shredded chicken, chicken sausage, pastrami, bacon, etc.)

Tuesday:

Breakfast:  Pre-made egg muffins

Lunch:  Pastrami wrapped red peppers, mixed nuts, Greek yogurt, cucumber slices

Dinner:  Broiled tuna steaks, sweet potato oven-fries

Wednesday:  

Breakfast:  Last of the egg muffins

Lunch:  Large bowl of tomato salad with feta, basil, vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper

Dinner:  Oven-fried chicken (breaded with almond meal, corn meal, and spices), pumpkin sautéed in pork lard, spices and maple syrup

Chickenedited pumpedited Oven-fried chicken and sautéed pumpkin

Thursday:

Breakfast:  Egg scramble with ham, mushrooms, spinach, peppers, onions and feta.

Lunch:  Avocado topped with bacon, berries

Dinner:  Chicken sausage (cut into chunks), sautéed with lots of red and green peppers, onion and spices.  sautéed kale, spinach and beet greens as a side.

Friday:

Breakfast:  Chorizo hash with potatoes and onion, fried egg served on top

Lunch:  Canned tuna mixed with olive tapenade, served on gluten-free crackers, pear

Dinner:  Ground pork meatballs with marinara, roasted broccoli, salad

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Please remember that I am by no means an expert.  I am just getting started and am learning as I go and I do not strictly adhere to the Paleo diet.  My favorite Paleo blog is Nom Nom Paleo.  Do yourself the favor and download the Nom Nom Paleo app for iPad if you have one.  It is the best food app I have ever seen, with detailed shopping lists, easy to follow recipes and huge photos of the food.  There are also so many great blogs, books and recipes if you are interested in learning more about this lifestyle.

I am really thrilled with the transformation in our eating habits.  I no longer crave carbs (although I emotionally crave ice-cream from time to time!) and am eating more fresh produce than I ever have.  Our entire family is losing weight and feeling better.  I’m even adjusting the way I feed my guests when we have company.  I am learning that if my body is truly a temple of the Holy Spirit, it is my responsibility to take care of its every component.

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What about you?  Have you heard much about the Paleo or wheat-free lifestyle?  Would it be hard for you to make this kind of change?  Do you have any tips for this wheat-free/Paleo beginner?  I would love your feedback!  If you want a more detailed recipe from the foods mentioned above, just comment and I will get back to you.

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Missed any posts?  Here are the most recent:

What Kind of Person?

Dear Dad, Letter 1

A Gathering of Links XV

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What Kind of Person?

It was one of those nights in the Rennard house.

Tempers were flaring.  Hormones were raging.  Frustrations were high.

My sweet 9-year-old was testing my limits.  Disobedience.  Disrespect.  Unkindness toward her little sister.  Temper.  Grunting, growling, stomping.  Talking back.

I stepped out of her bedroom, gave myself a few moments alone to catch my breath and calm down……

Mind racing.  Feelings of failure.  Inadequacy.  Fear of the future.  Disappointment.

Then it comes to me.

“Ava, what kind of person do you want to be?”  I say with tears in my eyes.

Avaschool2

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This question opens up an honest dialogue.

Does she want to be like her parents?  Like all the members of her family who have devoted their lives to serving God?  Ultimately, does she want to be like Jesus?  Does she want to be someone who is transformed by the Holy Spirit and bears the fruit of the Spirit in her life?

OR….

Does she want to be ruled by her flesh?  Does she want to be selfish?  Does she want to be disrespectful and unkind?  Does she want to always get her way at the expense of everyone around her?  Does she want to harm those who she loves with her sharp words and unkind actions?

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Tears well up in her eyes.  She is processing, thinking, evaluating the question posed to her.  I hold her close, pray earnestly for her, reaffirm my love and acceptance of her, tell her I am blessed to be her mother.

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This question has been churning in my head for weeks.

Ava, what kind of person do you want to be?

I know what kind of person I want Ava to be.  I have my own hopes and dreams for her.  While I can train, teach and lead by example, the choice ultimately belongs to Ava.  Will she allow the Holy Spirit to transform her into someone who reflects the character of Christ?  Time will tell.

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Meanwhile, I hear the gentle voice of a loving Father ask me the question…..

“Rachael.  What kind of person do you want to be?”

Do you want to know me and respond to my voice?  Do you want to lay aside weights, sin and distraction in order to know me more?  Will you allow me to remove the pride from your heart?  Will you be someone who makes space in your heart and life for my lost sheep?  Will you reflect my character with your words and in your deeds?

OR……..

Will you put me on the back burner of your life, calling on me when it is convenient?  Will you elevate yourself at the expense of others?  Will you fall in step with the materialism around you?  Will you go where you want to go instead of where I lead?  Will you gossip and slander?  Will you exclude others so that you feel more included?  Will you always put yourself first?

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Will I allow the Holy Spirit to transform me into someone who reflects the character of Christ?  Time will tell.

sig Missed any posts? Here are the most recent:
Dear Dad, Letter 1

A Gathering of Links XV

What I’m Into, July 2013

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Dear Dad, (Letter 1)

me&dad

Dad,

You have been gone for half of my life now.  Some days this fact astounds me.  Other days, you are a stranger to me.  Don’t get me wrong.  You left a permanent imprint.  You left your mark in a profound way….

But your voice is faint and sometimes inaudible in my mind.  Your face is familiar only through photographs.  I don’t remember the subtleties of your expressions, the strangely beautiful shade of your eyes, your movements, your touch.

What I have is a permanent impression of a person who marked me with such force, the entire course of my life was altered.  I remember how you made me feel secure, even in the midst of such chaos.  I see shadows in my mind of afternoon naps with you on the couch and ever-so-faint remembrances of sitting on your lap when I was much too old to do so.

I am marked by your strength.  I sometimes wallow…. feeling so sorry that I only knew you for 16 years, wondering if I really knew you at all.  Then I recognize that in some ways, I knew you better than most.  I knew the Dad who was tried by fire and came out as gold.  I have no specific memories of you pre-cancer.  I’m sure that is sad for some to hear.  However, I have come to recognize that cancer was not our enemy.  Cancer was the fire through which you passed, allowing God to remove the impurities.

Cancer was the battle you fought that made you a warrior.  Cancer stripped you of any self-reliance and threw you into trust of a loving Savior.  You allowed the trial of cancer to show you what was truly important in life, and I would be living in denial to think that somehow I didn’t benefit from that realization.

You loved me fiercely.  I never doubted it for a moment.  Dad, you used your limited time with me so, so wisely.  You poured your heart and too-short life into introducing me to Jesus.  It was not an easy introduction.  I met the Jesus who walks us through the fire.  Dad, we both came out as gold.  What more could I have asked for?

Time?  Maybe.  And yet….. maybe all of that pressure on you, and therefore on me, is what allowed your imprint to be permanent on my person.  Lasting.  Never even fading for a moment.

I have the days when I long to hear your voice, feel your touch, seek your counsel, share with you in my joys, burden you with my heartaches, benefit from your wisdom, see your face.

But if not for cancer, if not for God transforming you through that fire, you wouldn’t have been the dad I knew.  I wouldn’t be me.  So I trust in the One who works all things together for good.  You taught me about him.  You taught me that lesson.  It is imprinted on my very being.

Love,

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A Gathering of Links XV

links

I haven’t posted my favorite links for several weeks, so all of my favorites have been piling up. I hope you are able to take some time to read through some of these. I love them all, but I have put a * next to my very favorites in case you only have time to read a few.

Spiritual Inspiration:

Labels at A Deeper Story.

*From A Holy Experience, How to be Beautiful and Have a Beautiful Home Life.

At A Deeper Story, On Peace.

In Which I Climb a Metaphor from Sarah Bessey.

At A Deeper Story, Meet the Racists.

Just do yourself and read this over at A Holy Experience.

At A Deeper Story, The Day I Ate 6 Cheese Buns.

The Church:

Sunday Night Church by Jen Hatmaker.

*At A Deeper Church:  Church Words:  Preach.

From Rachael Held Evans, Why I Can’t Stay Angry.

Doing it Wrong at A Deeper Church.

Parenting:

A look at Girl Drama from A Modern Mrs. Darcy.

Food Love:

Simply the Best from Pioneer Woman.

Book Love:

*31 Noted Authors Pick Their Favorite Books at Real Simple.

Twaddle-free Books for Young Children from A Simple Mom.

Summer Survival:

*I can totally relate to An Introvert’s Guide to Surviving Summer from Narrow Paths to Higher Places.

Rachael Gathers:

My own most read post over the last month or so was I Gather a Prayer for Ruby.

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What about you?  Have you read anything funny, inspirational or informational lately?  I’d love you to comment with your favorite links!  Have a fantastic week!

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