Something Worth Sharing

Here she is, our new precious little one. She joined our family on June 26th, after what my husband describes as a “fast and furious” labor and delivery (she was born less than 1 hour after I checked into the hospital). We are thrilled with our new family member. brand new

Well, at first, some of us weren’t so sure.

fia and bella meet elenaBut I think we’re all adjusting pretty well, and this little one is getting lots of well deserved love and attention. sleeping

three seriousHave a wonderful day!

How to Love Where You Are, No Matter Where That Is

I know I’ve been sharing pictures of Quito lately, but that’s because I’m behind in posting. We left Quito weeks ago. We are currently in Ancón with my husband’s family, and my husband is in Galapagos. It’s been like this for two weeks now. Why aren’t we back enjoying paradise as a family? Well, it has to do with the complications that come with trying to move across borders. Technically I’m an alien of the illegal variety in this country (slightly ironic feeling, to be on the other side the immigration question) while I wait and wait and wait for my documents to be processed, my marriage to be recognized by Ecuador (it takes more than you would think), and then to get a visa. After all that, I still have to apply for residency in Galapagos, which is practically its own country, and it’s tough to get. It may be a month or more before we’re reunited. It’s been a challenge with our squatter status here, but we’re trying to make the most of it.

At first I had a hard time being positive about the whole thing. Ancón is not always an idyllic place to be, and getting anywhere else means a long bus right with two motion-sickness prone little girls. When it started to sink in that we’re going to be here for a while, I decided I needed to change my attitude about the whole thing, if I was going to keep from going crazy. Here are some things I’m trying to do, and maybe they’ll help you, if you’re struggling to love the place you’re at right now.

♦   Look for the beauty around you. It may be more difficult to find in certain places, but it’s not impossible. Even if it’s just the color harmony of the dilapidated buildings around you, or the abstract designs of the cracks in the sidewalk, there are things all around to delight the eye and enliven the mind.

  Read. And it doesn’t have to be escapist reading to help you deal with your living situation. Reading will enrich your life in a way that will give you strength to deal with the hardships of the real world. I personally find that reading the word of God can be particularly helpful, when nothing else seems to make your day right. If you think you don’t have time to read, consider listening to books while doing other things. I’m currently listening to Grimm’s Fairy Tales with my girls while I do chores or edit photos. has a ton of audio books available for free, including scriptures.

♦   Do what you can and don’t worry about what you can’t do. This is one I need to repeat to myself often.  It doesn’t always work, but when I can focus on the things that I can do, it makes the day go much better. I didn’t bring a lot of supplies, so I’m pretty limited in the projects that I can do while I’m here. Sometimes I get caught up in thinking of all the things I wish I could be doing right now, but I’ve been trying to think of little things that I can do, and not only has it made me feel better, it’s helped stretch my creativity.

♦   Make the most of what you have. This goes along with the first and third item, but it deserves its own mention, too. This is another way that I have learned to push my creativity. Take a look at what you’ve got to work with (be it ingredients for a meal, supplies for a craft, places you can take your kids) and think of ways to put a new spin on them. This helps keep things exciting and gives you more bang for your buck.

♦   If all else fails, chalk it up to experience. No matter how challenging or painful your situation may be, there is something to be learned from every experience. For me, I feel that I am learning to see the world through new eyes. I have never really suffered, and I’m still not suffering, really (even though the cold showers feel pretty close to it, sometimes)? But I have seen true suffering here, and I it has taught me so much. To be grateful for what I have. To have compassion on those who do not have. And some things that can’t be expressed with words.  For that, I will always look back on this uncomfortable, awkward time in limbo and be grateful for it.

What do you do to love where you are? It isn’t always easy, and I’d love to hear what works for you.

Have a great day!

Home-made baby food, and a quick update

I’m still here, in case any of you were wondering where I’ve been. My blogging funk ended just in time to get loaded down with work for my editing job.  From the way things are looking, I probably won’t be able to come up for air until the first of October. I’ll try to drop in here every now and then to show you what I get done in the wee hours of the morning (i.e., the projects I really want to do).

In the meantime, here’s a little follow-up to my last post about living a beautiful life:

Homemade baby food.

I’ve never bought a single jar of baby food. I’ve never made a conscious decision not to, like it’s some big valiant stand against the evil baby food makers (I don’t think they’re evil, by the way), I just never have felt the need to. My baby’s first foods have always been mashed up bananas and such things, and grabbing a ripe banana was always much more handy than going to the store to get a little bottle of the stuff. From mashing things like bananas, I moved on to steaming and puréeing.

Yes, a little more effort, but less expensive and easier than running to the store, in my opinion.

If you want to make your own baby food, you just need to take whatever it is you want to feed your baby and make it soft and easy to eat. That’s it. If you’re looking for ideas, this site has great information. It’s where I always go if I have a question about how to prepare something. For the most part, thought, it’s pretty simply. Most fruit and vegetables need to be cooked (I prefer steaming) and then mashed or puréed before your baby eats them.

Bananas, mangos, and avocados are okay raw. I try to go organic when I can, and you can skip adding salt or sugar, your baby will love it anyway. I love knowing exactly what my baby is eating.

Enjoy sharing some new, home-made foods with your little one.

Small and Simple Things

So, I’ve been wanting to write a post like this for a while. You see, I know you most likely come to my blog for a tutorial or two, maybe some crafting inspiration, and that’s great, but I never intended it to be the only thing I posted here. When I started this blog, I chose my title, Beauty All Around, very carefully. It’s kind of my personal motto. Definitely not something that I have achieved, yet, but something I am striving for. Creating a beautiful life, not just beautiful things (notice, I changed my blog subtitle to reflect this?).

What is a beautiful life? For me, it’s a simple life. It’s living within our means. It’s teaching my children. It’s laughter. It’s true love. A warm and welcoming home. Good food that nourishes body and soul. It’s using resources wisely, not taking more than you need, and giving back as much as you can. Recycling. Composting. Home gardens. It’s local. It’s homemade. It’s sustainable. It’s balanced. It’s finding time to relax, take a breath, and recharge my soul. It’s recognizing what matters most, and always putting those things first.

That’s a lot, right? Yeah, so obviously I’m not there yet (my husband will definitely attest to that), but that doesn’t mean I have given up on my vision. The thing is, I know I can’t do it all at once. No way. But I know I can start small and do simple things, one at a time, and slowly (sometimes very slowly) I can create the beautiful life that I deeply desire.

How small? How simple? Well, there’s a few things I’ve already started, like

Maybe this seems like a lot, put together in a list like that, but I didn’t start these things all at once, and I’ve started slow, making sure not overwhelm myself. My general rule of thumb has been, think about an area that I can improve in my life, ask myself if I think I can do it, and then give it a try. Some things work, and some things I am not in a position to do yet. For example, here are some things that I would love to do, someday, but are on the “wait for the right time” list for now:

  • beekeeping
  • homemade, organic health and beauty products (I want to start with this)
  • sewing my own clothes
  • reusable paper towels and napkins
  • reduce (eliminate) use of plastic products
  • large organic garden

And I’m sure there are more things that I haven’t even considered yet. I may, in the future, take a break from my regular craft blogging to share with you some of the ways I have been trying to create a beautiful life. I hope you don’t mind too much.

How about you? What is your idea of a beautiful life? Any suggestions?  Have a wonderful, beautiful weekend.