A Basket for Each Egg

Baskets of Africa being featured in March 2014's issue of HGTV Magazine

I was looking at the definition of a fetish. The one most familiar to us all, I'd say is: "a strong and unusual need or desire for something". But I couldn't help but smile when I read that another definition is: "an object that is believed to have magical powers" because my friends, I'm pretty sure magic is what I feel when I buy one of these baskets. 

As soon as I started to enjoy decorating, I noticed my love for baskets. It's a textile that can be equally beautiful as it is useful. I started collecting my favorites here and there, as they are quite easy and inexpensive to come by (another thing to love about them). So when my Aunt Lancy introduced us to the company, Baskets of Africa* I was transported to basket heaven. 

Now, you'll see many options and styles, but nothing feeds my fetish quite like their Ghana Bolga Baskets. Farmer's Market anyone? Seriously. Who doesn't love a Farmer's Market? Not only can you use them for, well, pretty much everything, but I think they're some of the most affordable on the site (especially for the size). And since they're one-of-a-kind their stock is constantly changing. Scrolling through their site has the same effect on me as does breathing in and out of a paper bag. I know it sounds like I'm trying to sell you on them, but I love them so much, these are actually things I think about daily...probably trying to justify to myself a reason to buy just one more...

Speaking of which, I actually came up with a reason to buy three of their baby-sized ones. It came when I was over on Etsy looking for some cute Easter baskets. (Since before now, my kids have been the ones running around at the Easter egg hunt with plastic grocery sacks). I almost felt a little stupid for not arriving at the conclusion sooner. I immediately forced Ryder and Penny to each side of my computer so they could pick out what "treat basket" they wanted. And a treat basket it shall be. For Halloween, for Easter, for Christmas, for Valentines...for St. Patrick's Day...I mean, I'm pretty sure every other day is a holiday that brings them home from school with some sort of treat and therefore a need for a decorative place to put those treats. Bam.

And there you have it. My name is Jasmine, and I'm addicted to Baskets...of Africa...of the Ghana Bolga variety.

*I must take a pause to talk about his company for a sec. Not that I haven't already--but just in case you love them as much as me (in which case, we should be friends)-- aside from having spectacular customer service (free shipping with every purchase and I have yet to have an order that takes longer than three days--usually less-- to arrive, even during the holidays) they are a Fair Trade company who offers African weavers sustainable wage, most of whom are women working to support themselves and their families. Each basket is also one-of-a-kind, so you're getting a unique piece of artwork with each purchase. And their affordable! (I remember eyeing similar baskets in shops in Sydney woven by Australian Aborigines and one basket the size of a breakfast bowl cost $80 AUD!) Sorry, the unpaid commercial is now over. 

Our Marilyn Monroe

It was no suprise to me that one day Hazel woke up from her nap with a strategically placed boogy beauty mark. It's something that just runs in the family...

I'm related to Marilyn Monroe

Don't believe me?

Niether did my A.P. U.S. History teacher in high school.

The lecture that day was on the iconic figures of the 1950's. It just so happened that I was sitting on the front row and as soon as I realized the informational article he was reading to us was about yours truly, I got so excited about my claim to fame, I blurted out, "I'm related to her!"

He laughed heartily and told me in front of the entire class that I was wrong. Now, despite what you may think, I really liked this teacher. I found his lectures interesting and his dry humor quite entertaining. And because in my efforts to convince him otherwise, he said, "Fine. If you can tell me what her real name is, I'll give you 400 extra credit points." Assuming, of course, I would never know such a random piece of trivial information like that.

Cool, calm and collected (well, that's how I remember it) I said, "Norma.  Jeane.  Mortensen."

My correct answer was confirmed. And I was able to enjoy a moment of sweet victory that would have been worthy of a narration from A Christmas Story's Jean Shepherd himself.  

Now, there are some who might say Marilyn's moral compass was off a few degrees, but there's not a woman on my mom's side of the family who would allow you to say a bad thing about our girl. We're loyal people by nature and that combined with the sympathy we have for knowing the difficulty it must have taken to become No. 1 in TV Guide's Films Sexiest Woman of All Time leaves us with nothing but a ridiculous amount of pride for this distant relation. 

I mean we're talking the sort of pride that prompted my sister, as a little girl, to attend a church primary activity dressed as Marilyn because they were supposed to go as their favorite ancestor.  (The primary president wasn't amused. My mom was. As are the rest of us to this very day.)

For despite her flaws (and Hollywood's overly tragic portrayl of her)--she was an icon. That's not something merely attained through talent, charm and beauty alone, but more so, I'd say, through her confidence and fearlessness. And I can't help but think there isn't a woman on Earth who wouldn't love thinking they have a little of that floating around in her gene pool. I'm pretty sure it was coursing through my veins that day in my history class, or the day my sister dressed up as her favorite ancestor. Or any other time my mom, aunt, cousins, sister or myself needed an extra boost of courage on or off a stage--it was there then too. 

Even though we are related to her through my mother's paternal side to her estranged father, Martin E. Mortensen, who Wikipedia told me that she denied him as ever having been so--I can't help but wonder what she would think of this distant branch on her family tree... 

I'd like to think she would be proud of us too. 

Lowering Expectations

Everytime someone raves about how good a movie is, it seems whenever I get around to seeing it, it's never as good as I was expecting. And the opposite applies as well. If someone says a movie wasn't that great, when I finally see it, I usually think hey, that was better than I was expecting! I've even come to prefer the lower expectations. 

My sad dayplanner that was falling apart before Hazel had her way with it. Not my most favorite Papersource product :(

And lately lowering expectations kind of sounds nice. Sometimes having high expectations can be exhausting. For example the other day I woke up tired and just knew it was going to be one of those days. So immediately I lowered my expectations. And what do ya know? Instead of noticing everything I didn't do I ended up rather impressed with the stuff I did do. And if given the option to feel awesome or not feel awesome--I'm going to choose to feel awesome. 

Now, there are days that deserve my best efforts to be better and there are some days that I'm just plum lazy. I think one of the hardest things to do as a mother is striking the correct balance between trying to do better and not being too hard at ourselves. Along with trying get everything done with the right priorities...with no one tellling you whether or not you're doing it right. 

Okay--so it's a tricky job sometimes. 

Which is why I'm thinking there's no harm in lowering my expectations a little more...or staying in bed to play on your ipad (obviously).

And by golly, if a movie is really, really good, tell me it was only mediocre!

Profile Silhouettes + Gold

So I'm totally diggin' gold lately. Deep down, I think I always have...

Now, where were we?

 I don't really remember whent the profile silhouette made a comeback in the interior design world, but it was one trend I was more than happy to copy. I think they are such a fun way to document a family in a home. Especially, when you have little ones who keep changing. I had first done these about 2 years ago when we first moved to New Jersey. However, there hasn't been an update since. I kept procrastinating because I knew I couldn't remember how to do them in Photohop so I'd have to go back to Youtube to sift through all the tutorials again to figure it out.

As it turns out, I was right. I had procrastinated for a really good reason. Not to mention doing Hazel's (from start to finish) was no picnic. Notice her mouth is open...because apparently it is ALWAYS open. Unless she's sucking on her pacifier...or doing her cute little kissy face, well then its in the shape of a kiss and I could totally deal with that....

(Let's vote. Who doesn't like my DVD's there?  Aye.)

Anyhow, where were we?

Oh yes, they were a little tricky to do for someone who is as inept as myself at Photoshop. Luckily, I didn't have to do Phil and I's. Until his hairline has receded enough to make a difference or until I've accumulated a significant amount of additional chins, we shall remain immortalized in our late-twenties. Or more importantly, me in my bangs. So that I may live vicariously through a hair-do that I have such a love/hate relationship with....

Now, where were we again?

Ah yes, but we got 'er done, printed them and popped them into their newly golden-plated (spray painted) frames and there we go. I kept going back and forth on the gold, but in the end I couldn't resist. And I'm happy I didn't. So there we have one more project crossed off the list and slowly with a few more wall arrangments and small changes, this room is almost where I want it.

Next on the list: My Living Room End Table Conundrum (that is, if I ever find a solution).

The Happy Stuff

 I took a little break to clean up the blog, host some visitors and nurse some sickies back to health (one of which was myself). We were having such a healthy January and February, but it seemed as though a couple of cold viruses wanted the last word before Spring gets here.

It has also been during these last couple of weeks my emotions have been on a bit of a roller coaster ride. Now, we're not talking "Colossus" size of roller coaster...more like "Puff the Little Fire Dragon" size of roller coaster. It was as though a mild case of the winter blues had been slowly building until it one day it hit me like a sack of bricks and I felt so agitated all the time. In the past I haven't found going off by myself isn't usually this monumentally beneficial thing for me--but this time it was! Thank goodness for a sweet, supportive husband, who let me have a few hours to myself over the last couple of Saturdays.

(Hazel Ane after her bath the other day.)

I wasn't a fan of how the whole thing snuck up on me. And so it was around this time, I was thinking more about what makes me happy. Which sounds simple enough, I mean there's the obvious things like my family, The Gospel... and shopping. But I was trying to be more specific. Like when I go to bed at the end of the day--what things have I done that day that make me feel fulfilled, productive and hopeful--because, by golly, staying in and watching my shows sometimes just doesn't cut it! 

So here are a few things I've noted:

-Going on walks. More specifically a walk to the park to let me kids play so we can all benefit from the sunshine and exercise.
-Reading. More specifically reading my scriptures, reading conference talks and good books that make me feel smarter.
-Doing small unexpected deeds of service. Something I need to be better at.
-Listening to talks from BYU Womens Conference while I'm getting ready.
-Vacuuming. I find it very relaxing and it requires me to clean my house. Although, I have to be careful with this one because Hazel has a tendency to get into some mischief while I'm vacuuming which isn't necessarily worth the trade for theraputic cleaning.
-Exercising. More specifically, exercising to be healthy. Exercising for any other reason actually has the opposite effect on me.
-Playing with my babies. I'm always feeling like if they're happy and entertained I should be cleaning the house or crossing things off my to-do list, but maybe all those Pinterest quotes have a point.
-Staying inside my budget. Painful, but true.
-Play dates! My favorites are the ones include the moms too.

After writing this, I know it all seems so obvious, but I can't help but feel like there's something to be said for conscientiously and specifically noting what makes us happy and fulfilled, because I never seem to have a hard time accounting for what makes me sad. And I'd much rather focus on actions that keep those blues at bay. Hopefully, I can master these and keep adding to the list.

What specific things make you feel fulfilled and happy or things you do to keep your blues at bay?